13 November 2017


Orphan Papers

Sitterwerk St. Gallen

12 November 2017 – 28 January 2018



The Sitterwerk is a centre and meeting point for artists, craftspeople, scientists and the public in St. Gallen. The institution is subdivided into an art library, materials archive, studio house and the Kesselhaus Josephsohn. Restoration and artistic production can be undertaken in the art foundry and the photo lab.


With a stock of around 25,000 books, the art library is characterised by its dynamic order. Here each book is provided with an RFID tag (Radio-Frequency Identification, a radio-traceable, information-saving sticker), so that the stock can be digitally recorded. An antenna driven by an automated mechanism travels along the shelves to create a digital index, allowing for permanent inventory. This means that no book in the library has a fixed location and the arrangement of the books adapts itself to the users; this is part of the innovative achievement of this system and also increases the likelihood of serendipitous discoveries.

In addition, a new form of the inventory catalogue, has been created, making it possible to see online what books are where, thereby supporting new forms of use. Based on this system, a Bibliozine was developed, a layout template that mimics analogue and summarises them in a zine for anyone to use. Since 2013, four designers and developers have been working together to design and implement this project.

The study of the system resulted in the desire for a discussion on the topic. On 23 November 2017, for example, an evening of discussion with Juja Chakarova, the library director of the Max Planck Institute in Luxembourg , Anthon Astrom and Lukas Zimmer, two of the designers and developers of the library, will take place

The theme of the exhibition “Orphan Papers”, which can be seen in the library until 28 January 2018, suits the dynamic order of the system. Since the majority of the books come from personal collections, it is not unusual when browsing, to repeatedly stumble upon notes made during reading and research by the original owners. In the exhibition, the Geneva-based artist and publisher Izet Sheshivari will create a platform for these archived musings. The newspaper articles included in the books will also be part of the exhibition, which reveals the intuitive networking of users and information in libraries.


Nº 280

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