Photo Credit: Alvin Wu, The Daily Californian
Photo Credit: Michael Hitchner
Photo Credit: Michael Hitchner

By public demand, it's back! Lacuna, dubbed “the world's most public library” by San Francisco Magazine, will return to MLK Jr. Civic Center Park.

What is Lacuna? It is an interactive library and the center of the book festival. More specifically, it is an art installation made out of books, 50,000 of them, which have been donated by the Internet Archive. This public art installation has been designed and constructed, book by book, by the FLUX Foundation. Dozens of book festival volunteers have helped with the book sorting.

Want to contribute to the festival's magic? Support Lacuna by joining our new “Wind Beneath Our Wings” program!

For the duration of the festival weekend, this dynamic outdoor library will be open to the public for free. Not only is admission free, but the books are too.

That’s right, free books for all! Lacuna is a dynamic process that embodies the power of books to move, teach, and inspire all of us. The community’s participation in dismantling Lacuna is integral to the sculpture’s purpose and success.

Each of Lacuna’s twelve alcoves is formed by solid pillars created out of stacked books. Connecting these pillars are shelves filled with books. Suspended above the structure, as if by magic, open books flutter in the breeze, like birds in flight. When entering Lacuna, visitors literally and figuratively inhabit the interiority of books and their contents.

As books are removed from Lacuna’s shelves, the structure morphs; new gaps and fissures created by removed books change the quality of Lacuna’s light and sound, creating an ever-changing play of color, shape, and rhythm that evolves in real time. Benches in and around Lacuna provide places for reading, discussion, and contemplation. How inspiring it is to see families picnicking and reading together, or to see within the structure a face light up when a striking book design or long-lost title comes into view!

Lacuna embodies the Bay Area Book Festival’s mission and spirit. It has captured the minds of book-lovers everywhere, even as far away as Korea, Singapore, and France.

The FLUX Foundation is a nonprofit arts association whose mission is to engage people in designing and building large-scale public art as a catalyst for education, collaboration, and empowerment. FLUX created Lacuna for the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival in 2015, and we’re delighted that FLUX will return for the second annual festival. They will install Lacuna on site in the days before the festival.

We—and the thousands of readers who take books from Lacuna’s shelves—also give a special salute to the Internet Archive for such a generous donation of books. The Archive is an organization whose mission is to preserve the world's cultural artifacts by creating a digital library. (Think Library of Congress for the 21st century and beyond.) People from around the world have sent physical books to the Archive that they thought worthy of preserving via the Archive’s intensive digital scanning. The Archive also keeps a copy of the physical book. But sometimes there are duplicates (or quintuplets)—and the Archive wants to get those back out into the world. These are the books that the festival’s volunteers have sorted through, organizing them into categories so you can find what you want on Lacuna’s shelves. Every single book is hand-selected by these volunteer curators.

Lacuna is a lot of things: festival hub, civic space, art installation, architectural wonder, but it is first and foremost a library. This is important because libraries connect us—to each other and to ourselves. They nurture our communities with knowledge and ideas, and they provide spaces for discussion and reflection. They deliver us to worlds unknown, and they reflect our worlds back to us.

Help us complete the experience of Lacuna by visiting, browsing its shelves, and taking some of its books home for yourself, your family, and friends.

Video credit: Kim Aronson

The creation of Lacuna for the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival was supported by a grant from Burning Man and many individual donors. For this second year, we’ve gone forward to mount Lacuna again, but we still need funds for completion—for forklifts, trucks, security, management, and the like, all of which come out of the festival’s general budget. It’s not free to give free books! Please make a contribution. Email us at if you’d like to tell us that your contribution is expressly for Lacuna.