The Sketchbook Project, a mobile library filled with sketchbooks created by people—artists and non-artists alike—from all over the world, rolled onto our SUNY Purchase campus today inviting the Purchase community to participate in their global art experience.

Part exhibition, part library, and part creative opportunity, the black trailer holds thousands of sketchbooks from a collection of more than 26,000 that are housed in the Brooklyn Art Library, run by Art House, a Brooklyn-based company that organizes global, collaborative art projects. The Sketchbook Project is their flagship endeavor.

Anyone can participate, in “reading” the books, or in creating them. Simply enter a name, phone number, and email address into a laptop and a library card is issued. The books on board have all been descriptively tagged. By selecting from categories on a second laptop, cardholders then borrow books to enjoy at temporary tables in the outdoor “reading room” in the grass near Starbucks.

The Sketchbook Project also invites anyone to purchase a blank sketchbook and create a project of his or her own to submit for a future tour. All books then become part of the collection at the Brooklyn Art Library. Since its inception in 2006, the project has issued more than 46,000 library cards, traveled more than 50,000 miles, and the number of checkouts is nearing 100,000.

Jessica Sugerman ’09 is project manager for The Sketchbook Project. She’s excited to bring the project to campus. “People are so open to experiencing new things, that’s what’s great about Purchase,” she says.

Ultimately, the project is about connecting people. “Some books are by artists but most are from everyday people. From four year-olds in the Sudan to seniors down the road; you can have a book from Kentucky next to a book from Paris…it just connects people from all different backgrounds.”

A painting major who minored in art history, Sugerman helped connect people while at Purchase. As leader of the Art Club, she brought together creative types from all majors to exercise their drawing skills. She went on to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award.

What does Sugermen miss most at Purchase?  “The people; they’re so creative and open and interesting,” she explains. She describes the accepted students day when she chose to study at Purchase. “I just looked around and said to myself ‘I want to know these people.’”

For now she’s very enthusiastic about working for The Sketchbook Project. “It’s important for people to add their voice to something bigger than themselves.”

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