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The ribbon of words

23 July 2020

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Encircling the La Trobe Reading Room, on the walls above the shelves, are 38 inspiring, intriguing and challenging quotations about books, reading and libraries.

This inscribed 'ribbon of words' is entirely in keeping with the dome's classical look and feel, but it's not an original design feature of the room. The quotations were added to the perimeter walls during the dome's extensive refurbishment from 1999 to 2003.

The 38 quotations were drawn from texts in an exhaustive selection and editing process, led by librarian Cathrine Harboe-Ree.

Harboe-Ree recalls, 'We wanted a mixture of quotations, embracing different concepts, eras, cultures and genders, and we wanted the set of quotations to be pleasing to read as a whole. In addition, however, each quotation had to earn its place by being both meaningful and inspiring, and it should not be too long, given the odd physical nature of the installation.'

The ribbon of words, lit with diffused natural light through the skylight, is easy to overlook given the dome's scale and grandeur. But anyone who takes the time to glance up and pay attention will be richly rewarded.

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