The Big Book Comes to Cambridge

One of the world’s biggest books is coming to visit Cambridge University Library on May 19-21. It is a 2.2 metre high walk-in book entitled Imagine. It invites readers to enter and write their own individual answer to the question: “What do you imagine?”

The sculpture has been designed by artist Diana Bell (click here to visit her homepage) and will be displayed at the entrance of the University Library for three days. It was first displayed in Oxford last year and has since also been exhibited in London, where it was displayed in front of the British Library. The next stop-over will be in Bonn/ Germany early this summer (June 2nd-5th).

The book is aimed to represent the huge role books play in our society and to demonstrate how the individual can shape society with his/ her contribution. The book has collected comments from people in 57 different languages so far. Diana Bell said: “The reason the contributions are all handwritten is to emphasise the huge role individuality and imagination plays in our lives, and the empathy and interaction it allows us to have. I didn’t think contributing online would have the same impact, but all the contributions are scanned and placed on the Big Book website, so I am definitely embracing the digital age too!” The comments that have been written in the book can be found online on the website of the Big Book.

Diana Bell invites absolutely everyone to participate. For Cambridge in particular, she would like to see what scientists and mathematicians may think about the central question of the book. Are we the only being who has imagination? What are imaginary numbers? There are scientists in Cambridge from all over the world and some of their contributions might be very interesting and very different to the questions other people have asked. This book is a great way to get an insight to what moves people from many backgrounds and cultures.

This project is an ample opportunity for anyone to actively participate in one massive gathering of ideas and information on a question so central to human existence as existence itself. Imagination is in the centre of our being and so invaluable to our mind. Are you imagining right now and what do you imagine? Are your imaginations the same as those of your family, friends and neighbours?

So far almost 2000 people have contributed to the book, with about 250 comments per page. Some comments include: “Imagine a world without pollution”, “Imagine if everyone loved each other”, “Imagine if humans were not the dominant race in the world”, “Imagine if pandas ruled the world”, “Imagine if this book led to Narnia”, “Imagine complete happiness” and “Imagine a world were we give more than we take”.

Now it is time for the people of Cambridge to write down their comments in the big book. The Big Book will be outside the main entrance of the University Library and can be visited the following times:

Thursday May 19th: 10am-7pm, Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st: 10am-5pm.

Image reproduced from