Overdue Journals

By Chasen Paul

Books are the hardest thing to throw away. You try to sell them for a dollar, five cents, then you give them away; no one wants them and so they end up at the library because the Salvation Army said no. So the unsentimental are heaving old library hardcovers into the landfills of Canada.

It’s Margi Laurin, an artisan from south of Ottawa, who caught the library chucking bins full of books and saved them from the shredder and the dump and is now in the business of selling their reincarnations. Laurin uses old library books to create unique journals and sketchbooks. She takes the hardcovers from the books and uses them as covers for her spiral bound journals. Like a good butcher, she tries to use every part of the book: so the journal is divided, every 20 pages or so, by pages from the original hardcover. What she gives us is inspiration and design infused intermittingly into the blank white pages of a journal.

Each journal begins with the first few pages of the book; so that we can find out when our ‘Dick and Jane’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was printed, where and by whom. Some covers still have the library slip in its little envelope recording the last few names to check it out. All of her journals have a stamp ‘WITHDRAWN’ on the inside, indicating the book’s last discharge from the racks of the library.

Her collection consists of anything from Ontario High School Algebra to Robinson Crusoe. I purchased ‘Everyday Inventions’ at 20$ in the hopes of being inspired while writing daily thoughts and then perusing how and when the nail was invented. It works.

When Margi Laurin began saving the books from their unceremonious end she had no idea what she was going to do with them. They sat in the corner of her studio as she pondered whether or not to build a book shelf. Another artist who was recycling vinyl record covers was her her eureka-style moment. Now Laurin is now selling the journals in a handful of stores in Montreal and Barrie. She puts them randomly into a box and ships them out. For the people who did there most creative work in libraries or doodling in library books, thank Margi Laurin’s ingenuity, your day has come again.

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