Heddon and Myers introduced the audience to the Walking Library project by referencing examples of literary figures who took books as companions on walks in the past: John Hucks and the poems of Thomas Churchyard; Samuel Taylor Coleridge and a book of German poetry; John Keats and Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Walking Library thus follows in a long literary tradition of the side-by-side practices of reading and walking. These practices beg the question: what does it mean to take a book on a walk? What do literary companions contribute to a journey? And how might location and mobility affect both the act of reading and one’s hermeneutics of reading?
Professor Nicholas Pickwoad started his presentation with his discovery of a two volume Histoire by Jean LeClerc, printed in Amsterdam in 1723, which contained neither boards nor covers. His first guess was that certain book blocks were withdrawn unfinished from a binder’s workshop; however, regarding this collection’s history, he became convinced that these two volumes were part of long-established practice which books were prepared for sale by being sold in a condition ready for ‘conventional binding’, sometimes with or without boards attached but always without covers.