July 22, 2014

Libraries, Ian Rankin, and the Mystery of the Edinburgh Paper Sculptures

Since March a number of intricate and mysterious paper sculptures shaped from books have been left at literary spots across the city of Edinburgh.

So far, the sculptures have been left at the Scottish Poetry Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Filmhouse, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the Edinburgh Central Library.

Many of the beautifully crafted works have tags with small inscriptions like “This is for you in support of Libraries, Books, Words, Ideas.” Another reads “libraries are expensive” with the second “E” in expensive crossed out and changed to an “A” so it reads “expansive.”

Several also make reference to the Scottish mystery writer Ian Rankin.

“From the photos, it looks amazing — intricate and obviously the work of many hours. All very strange and wonderful…” Mr. Rankin told the Edinburgh Evening News in June.

Ali Bowden, Anna Burkey and Andrew Knowles described how they discovered the sculptures left at the Edinburgh book festival in this clip from Audioboo.


Until now, the creator has remained a mystery, but the Edinburgh Evening News said on Tuesday that it had identified the artist. However, in a strange twist, the newspaper did not reveal the artist’s identity and, instead, asked its readers in its daily poll whether it should do so.

The results are not yet in but apparently many want the artist to remain unknown. A Flickr slideshow also illustrates several of the works.

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley (mkelley@mediasourceinc.com) is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

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