The hidden world of Library microbes

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Science meets art in a new piece showing the microscopic life forms growing in the Library.

The Templeman Library’s Artist in Residence, Sarah Craske, has published the Microbiota Archive, an online gallery of images of microbial growths taken from Library staff’s hands.

Sarah spent a day at the Library taking samples from staff’s fingers. She let them grow in agar jelly for a week, then photographed the results. The photos reveal a huge range of growths, from bold bright map-like splodges to muted speckled patterns. Some photos are almost blank, perhaps from staff who had washed their hands thoroughly before being sampled. Others show microbes picked up from touching books, shelves, trolleys, keyboards and archive materials.

It doesn’t finish with the online gallery: soon we’ll be installing artwork in the Library based on this project.

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