The Living Library at the AGB

The Art Gallery of Burlington’s Living Library is an all-ages, flexible space designed to foster connectivity and meet the changing needs of Burlingtonians.

Living Library installation detail, Art Gallery of Burlington, 2023. Photo credit: Chris Blanchenot.

Living Library

January 25, 2023 – January 21, 2024
Co-curated by Suzanne Carte and Jasmine Mander

As an educational organization, the AGB understands the important role libraries play as a site where everyday knowledge, experiences, and literacies are valued. Our new programming space, the Living Library, is a year-long initiative with rotating and overlapping artists and authors’ projects which provides free access to events, a makerspace, and books, with room to sprawl. Like a library, it encourages the exchange of a broad range of human knowledge, experience, traditions, and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

The space is activated by regular contributors, such as artists, cultural workers, community organizers, and audiences. Living Library is built with the explicit intention of creating space in the institution wherein people want to spend more time resting and creating. Keeping it cozy, the space consists of tables, nooks, plants, seating, a chalkboard, and shelves full of books to read and materials to create with. The opening season includes artworks by Erika DeFreitas, Jeffrey Gibson, and Natalie King as inspiration to collage, read, listen, and look.

Natalie King’s mural, a soft place to daydream is a welcoming, warm embrace. It inspires communion between artists and creatives, opening a passage to a shared space to dream of futures, encourage exchange, reciprocity, and comfort for all guests.

Living Library makerspace is equipped with writing utensils, paper, and collage materials for you to stay, write, think, and create with. One way to kickstart your brain and get your fingers flowing is to begin with visual or written prompts. These can inspire both fiction and non-fiction or be used for journaling and reflection. Author Julietta Singh guides guests with an improvisational writing prompt. Using long-form letter writing in her practice, Julietta asks us to consider personal messages as a way of storytelling and truth-telling. In her newest work, The Breaks, Singh pens a letter to her young daughter about race, inheritance, and queer mothering at the end of the world.

Upcoming events:

Drop-in for a Collage Party with Charlie Star on February 19 from 1 – 4:00 pm. Mixing and mingling are at the heart of this event which is open to all ages and skill levels. Supplies and light refreshments are provided but feel free to bring your own source materials as well. The process of collaging offers an opportunity to slow down and meditate on the activity at hand.

Swap your old books for exciting new reads at the Book Swap on March 11 from 1 – 4:00 pm. All ages and genres are welcome. Stop by to browse the available selection and engage in conversation to find out everyone’s current must-reads. Post-it notes will be available to include a short note inside the front cover, sharing why you recommend the book you are giving.

When visiting the Living Library please consider bringing non-perishable food and hygiene products to donate to the Burlington Food Bank. Like so many communities, Burlington has seen an alarming 20% increase in the need for assistance with groceries over the last year. We are collecting community contributions to support the food bank’s efforts in meeting the growing demand for food security.

The Living Library will continue to grow and reflect the changing seasons with new artist projects and events activating the space throughout the rest of the year. Keep an eye out for the upcoming spring and fall season by visiting the Living Library online.

Caroline Monnet, Holding Up The Sky installation detail, Art Gallery of Burlington, 2023. Photo credit: Jimmy Limit.

On until April 23, is Caroline Monnet’s Holding Up The Sky, a survey exhibition of new and recent works centering how different spatial relationships condition the way that we live and think. Monnet’s practice moves between textiles, photography, sculpture, and film to address the complexity of Indigenous identities and bilateral legacies, drawing from her Anishinaabe and French heritages. In her work, traditional Anishinaabe sacred geometry transforms and softens the industrial cube into something more personal. As a form, the cube is present in architecture and many traditions of building, shaping the way we understand the world and dictating the ways in which we live, play, and learn.

The exhibition has a series of camps, workshops and outreach programs exploring geographies and narrative-building through clay, writing, and textiles. Visit our website for more information, and to learn how to take part. Registration is required for all public programs, visit to reserve your spot.

Holding Up The Sky has been made possible with the generous contribution of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. The AGB is supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Art Gallery of Burlington is proud to acknowledge that the land where it is located is part of the ancient Dish With One Spoon Treaty and also the Brant Tract Purchase, Treaty No. 3 3/4 of 1795, and it is grateful to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River for sharing this territory. The Art Gallery of Burlington is located at 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario.

1333 Lakeshore Road Burlington, ON L7S 1A9


Exhibition guided tours available upon request
Stephanie Vegh, Head of Learning
905-632-7796, ext. 313