Kerry Mansfield finds beauty in imperfection. In 2013, the San Francisco-based photographer created a series of images of worn library books entitled Expired, capturing the water damage, tears and hand-written scrawls that make each book unique.
Mansfield was inspired to start her project after spotting an old library checkout card inside a book she found at Goodwill, which made her nostalgic for the experience of libraries before books and card catalogues were digitized. She then spent more than two years collecting at least 160 former library books she found through nonprofits, eBay, libraries, garage sales and even individual submissions. They are all “books that have lived in at least one public library, often many more,” she said. “Once they are too abused or out of date they’re written off as ‘withdrawn’, ‘removed’, ‘expired’, therefore promptly taken out of circulation…. The unlucky ones get recycled back into pulp.”
Mansfield’s goal was to bring these damaged books back to life through photography, treating each as if it were a relic to be revered. She is not interested in the books that have been carefully preserved, but rather the ones that show their age. “I hunt those down because the truly, amazingly used ones shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said.
More of Kerry Mansfield’s work can be found on her website; the Expired monograph will be published in 2016.