Six outdoor sculptural libraries by artist Douglas Lochner are traveling to six public libraries, where they will be on display through April, said a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

“Tiny Libraries on Tour” are six brightly colored and dynamic human-sized symbols and punctuation marks Lochner created in 2019 on commission for the County Office of Arts and Culture.

They will be displayed at the Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Los Alamos and New Cuyama public libraries as well as those in Goleta and Santa Barbara, with books placed on shelves inside the symbols.

A bright red exclamation mark was installed Wednesday at the Santa Maria Public Library.

“The books in the ‘Tiny Library’ are free for the public to borrow or keep,” explained Mark van de Kamp, public information manager for the city of Santa Maria. “Community members are also invited to add books to the ‘Tiny Library.’”

The Santa Maria Public Library will help stock the shelves, he said.

Each library will provide corresponding programming for the duration of the exhibition, said Sarah York Rubin, executive director of the County Office of Arts and Culture, a division of the County Community Services Department that serves as a governmental umbrella for arts and culture activities.

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The “Tiny Libraries on Tour” exclamation mark sculpture in front of the Santa Maria Public Library holds books that are free for the taking.

Arts Commission Chairman Dennis Smitherman said the project will “provide a platform for communities throughout the county to interact with and experience the power of public art.”

Lochner’s proposal was chosen through an open submission process juried by representatives from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Arts Commission, the Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara City College, Moxi, the City Arts Advisory Committee and the Book Den.

His works were initially displayed on State Street in Santa Barbara in an exhibit produced by the city of Santa Barbara and the Office of Arts and Culture in partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Downtown Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation and community supporters.

Following the success of the exhibition, the Arts Commission voted to pay for transporting the sculptures to public libraries countywide.

“We hope the ‘Tiny Libraries’ enjoy the same popularity they had on State Street and serve as a reminder that the public library is a gateway to even more books, as well as community education classes, digital content and more that spark curiosity and further learning,” said Jessica Cadiente, library director for Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria.

“Tiny Libraries on Tour” is slated to return to State Street this summer.

Its current tour is sponsored by the County Arts Commission in partnership with the cities of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Goleta.

For more information, visit the County Arts Commission website at

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.

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