For a number of years, the Public Library of Pittem offers a platform for local visual artists. This is a result of the intense collaboration with the local art circle ‘Ter Cauwe’, which has around twenty artists under its wings. Artists will have the opportunity to exhibit their work in the library. This contributes to the pleasant atmosphere in the library, while library visitors come into contact with local talent, sometimes unknown to them. During theme weeks, such as The week of Mental Health, World Day dementia, The Alzheimer Code, … the art circle selects works that fit the theme.

Recently a new chapter was added to the collaboration. Since January 2018, citizens and companies can borrow works of art through the library. A catalog with about 50 works by a dozen artists was compiled. People can then select one or more art works. The works of art are circulated for three months. The Public Library takes care of the administrative processing and the practical arrangement. Every borrower signs an agreement. Depending on the value of the artwork, he pays a small fee that goes entirely to the artist. The municipality of Pittem has taken out insurance for the transport and the stay with the borrower. The latter is necessary because the civil liability insurance of the borrower never covers damage to works of art. The insurance includes an umbrella policy; the value, the period to be insured and the whereabouts of the work of art will be passed on to the insurance company per borrowed work of art.

Due to the lack of space, it is not possible to store the works of art in the library itself. That is why we opted for a catalog that can be consulted via the municipal website. The exchange of works of art is done in the library unless the artist prefers to bring his or her work to the borrower himself.

The library started this project for various reasons. Many citizens are interested in art but various reasons make it difficult to purchase artworks. Will the artwork fit into the interior, will one not be tired of the art work after a while, …: for these arguments people often do not proceed to the purchase of larger works of art such as paintings. The purchase price itself is often a stumbling block as well. In addition, artists want their work to be shown and admired as often as possible. Unfortunately, this happens occassionally and only through temporary exhibitions or activities. The government therefore has the task to support local artists and bring art to the attention. From contacts with the Sint-Jozefskliniek Pittem, an institution that works, among other things, on addiction problems and mental health, it appears that the presence of art has a high calming and therapeutic level. The clinic itself also showed interest in the initiatives of the library in the field of art. For example, in the long term, the clinic wants to exhibit artworks of (ex-) patients in the library.

In the meantime, the first works of art were lent; the reactions from artists and borrowers are very positive

Patrick Vanden Berghe

Librarian at Pittem Public Library