Art of Mel Chin

Babel

Two parallel walls in the Government Periodicals and Microfilm Section are covered with millwork derived from Pieter Breughel's depiction of the Tower of Babel (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

read more >>
Canary Couch

A reading chair upholstered in bright canary yellow, situated amid the stacks on this subterranean level, recalls the history of mining south of San José.

read more >>
Oasis

Watering holes in the desert are landmarks and campsites where stories have been exchanged for millennia.

read more >>
Tree of Light

A tenfold light fixture above the children's story telling area alludes through its layout to a 19th century diagram of the Sephirotic Tree, a symbolic Arabic and Jewish mapping of the connections

read more >>
Fiction/Fiction

As do all great libraries and all great mystery novels, the Circulating Books Section boasts a secret rotating bookcase.

read more >>
Counter

A digital reader mounted on a wall adjacent to the checkout counter displays a real-time record of the total number of books checked out of the library system.

read more >>
Underground Books

Beneath certain book stacks located throughout the library lie underground "vaults" holding books that have been banned, burned or otherwise intentionally set aside in history.

read more >>
Round Up

Eighty-one leather chairs, each marked with one of the forty-three cattle brands of the original San Jose ranchos (as recorded in 1819), "range" freely on the 2nd floor.

read more >>
Rosetta

The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799.

read more >>
Hearth

A corner fireplace (without fire) is built from bricks cast in the shape of books and marble selected for its smoky tendrils.

read more >>
Attic

The ancient "art of memory" technique calls for the construction of an imaginary "palace" containing different rooms in which to store one's thoughts.

read more >>
Vessel

A vessel, formed in the shape of the redoubled profile of Dr.

read more >>
Page Passage

As users walk between two rows of book stacks, they trigger recorded sounds of a page turning, followed at the end of the corridor by the sound of a book closing.

read more >>
Self-Help Mirrors

Mirrors behind the books in the self-help section give us another perspective with which to reflect on ourselves, if we care or dare to.

read more >>
Skeptacle

If "Skep" is an old word for a beehive made of straw, and a spectacle is something to behold, and being skeptical is advised while beholding this complicated world, then Skeptacle, is a giant bookc

read more >>
Beethoven's Inner Ear

Approximately the size of a French horn, a brass-plated, perforated sculptural representation of an inner ear replaces the grill of a public-address speaker in the ceiling of the Music Section.

read more >>
Father Magin's Pillow

One of the founders of the Santa Clara Franciscan monastery, Father Magin Català is said to have foreseen the coming of the Anglo-Americans, the railroad, the discovery of gold and the 1906 earthqu

read more >>
Golden Gate

The gateway to the Library's Special Collections displays 88 golden carburetors.

read more >>
Steinbeck's Fissure

A diorama at ankle height is located within the exterior wall of the Steinbeck Collection.

read more >>
Archaeology Table

A carved volcanic stone table, alluding to Olmec sculpture, is placed among the standard Library tables in the vicinity of the archaeology collection.

read more >>
Sour Grapes

Aesop's fox disparaged the grapes he was unable to reach, saying that they were sour.

read more >>
Wise Cracks

The glass windows on the 7th Floor Bridge (located near the library's art and art history holdings) appear cracked.

read more >>
English Lit

Honoring a desire expressed by members of the English Department faculty to immortalize the Bard, the artists designed a mechanized light clock that projects a "constellation" based on Shakespeare’

read more >>
Owl of Minerva

The nineteenth-century idealist philosopher G.W.F.

read more >>
Vermin Miller Chairs

A group of standard office chairs, each sporting an additional pair of legs, nest and socialize near the natural science section that is home to books on entomology.

read more >>
Tectonic Tables

These five functional reading tables, located adjacent to the geology section, map the shape of the major continental plates. The granite of each table was quarried from the continent it recalls.

read more >>
Gong & Scale

A hand hammered brass gong is designed after the San José Scale, a parasite that nearly destroyed the fruit orchards of the area in the 1880's.

read more >>
Zeno's Books

This artwork is composed of white leather-bound books inserted among the mathematics collection. Zeno of Elea, in the 6th century BC, argued that motion was impossible.

read more >>
Reflecting Pools

Creating a continuing commentary on water usage and industrial erosion, one of the three sinks within each of the men’s and women’s bathrooms is sculpturally eroded, progressing from the Eighth to

read more >>
True and Through

A magnificent Redwood tree which had been growing on the site prior to construction of the Library had to be cut down to accommodate the new building.

read more >>
Hatch

A little "door" surrounded by an ornate façade is located at the base of the wall of the southernmost elevator.

read more >>
In and Out (The Atmospheric Cabinet)

The grill covers of the building's HVAC system have been masked with a sculptured surface using patterns derived from the breathing apparatus of living forms: in this case stomata , the respiration

read more >>
Raza Writers

The transformation and personalization of mass-produced cars parallels the process of reading, promoting transformation, personal movement and creativity.

read more >>
Migration

The path of Migration begins with the ascension of thousands of brilliantly colored cast metal Monarch butterflies along the brilliant blue wall of the South East stairwell.

read more >>