ART150 Anniversary Video: A Library Time Capsule

This video was created in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Watertown Free Public Library. Click here to watch the full video on the library’s Youtube channel.

It started with a song that I had from last fall; a piano sketch tentatively titled “Before the Library Opens”. The song had always sounded to me like something waking up in the morning, and I liked the idea of evoking that potential energy that exists just before the library, or a library book, opens up.


I then started experimenting with syncing the notes of the piano along with pages turning to create a sort of textured prepared-piano effect, but it was when I took my camera into the library to get some more visuals that I realized that there was a lot more waiting to be captured than I had initially planned. With each new element that was added I was able to have the music evolve in different directions as well. My favorite example of this was trying to design the piano to flutter and fragment in reaction to the amazing floating book sculpture that Liz Helfer and her team at HATCH designed and constructed in our lobby for the 150th Anniversary Gala.


One of the things that I like most about the video is just how many library resources were used to make it. The beginning time-lapse from the river to the book drop utilizes the library’s GoPro camera. The ticking is the actual sound of the clock by the reference desk – a detail that I thought echoed both that quiet moment just before we open, as well as the clockwork mechanics of the library still going after all these years. The variety of books used for the pages flipping and the stop motion animation were all either checked out from our collection or gathered from our withdrawn or donated books.


I used the creative suite on the Mac computers upstairs to sequence the animations, and tutorials to fix many of the mistakes that I had made along the way. Of course the biggest employee perk of all was being able to come in early and shoot video in that stillness before we opened. It was a great opportunity to show off the library in a way that it is rarely seen, and I had hoped that the absence of people would remind us that it’s the people who use it that make the building really come alive.

In the process of editing the video together I realized that what I was really doing was creating a sort of time capsule of the library in its 150th year. The library itself preserves so many things; stories, movies, music, art, history, ideas, community, the list goes on, but the idea of preservation seems to be at the core of all that we are celebrating. Not just the library itself as a place of cultural preservation, but the fact that the community has chosen to preserve the magic of this place by using it so lovingly year after year.

-Joseph Ferreira, Circulation Department


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