What if a library of 25,000 books could work without conventional order? What if the books on the shelves did not follow categories or the alphabet, but could be placed and replaced by visitors as they think appropriate? What if the visitors were free to organize the library themselves? And what if all research was stored, in the form of collections of books and material, notes, scans and photographs, for everyone to explore and expand upon?
The Art Library (Kunstbibliothek) at the Sitterwerk in Gallen, Switerland works just like that. It holds around 25,000 volumes on art, architecture, and their production and history. The development of the collections at the Sitterwerk – besides the Art Library there is a Material Archive with hundreds of samples – gave rise to an in-depth examination of different approaches to organizing and creation of knowledge. In this new, vibrant set up, Sitterwerk is continuously creating new ways of working with its collections. In the past two years, together with Anthon Astrom and Lukas Zimmer (of the design firm Astrom / Zimmer), Fabian Wegmüller, and Christian Kern, an interactive table and browser application known as Werkbank has been developed and installed in the library.
Please join us on March 14 for a presentation on the Sitterwerk story and the specific project of The Dynamic Library. To help us expand on these ideas and explore the possibilities of dynamic, subjective ordering structures, Anthon Astrom and Lukas Zimmer (Astrom / Zimmer) will join us. They will discuss the Werkbank Project as well as other tools they have developed.
The presentation will be followed by an open discussion, and we invite everyone interested in libraries, archives, and knowledge to join us.
A symposium on this topic took place in the Sitterwerk in 2011. In 2013, a publication based on this symposium was released. The book has recently been published in English with the title The Dynamic Library (Soberscove Press, Chicago).
About our presenters:
In September 2014, Roland Früh was named the Head Librarian of the Art Library. After completing his studies in art history in Zürich, he wrote the book accompanying the exhibition Book Design in St. Gallen, at the Sitterwerk. In London he worked for the publisher Hyphen Press, at Werkplaats Typography in Arnhem, and as an art and design historian on publications and exhibitions. Since 2009, he has worked as a lecturer in art and design theory in schools at home and abroad.
Ariane Roth has been in charge of the business management of the Sitterwerk Foundation since 2010. She studied photography in Germany and was afterward responsible for dealing with the photographic estate of Andreas Züst. In 2009, she completed her master’s studies in the field of cultural management at the University of Basel in parallel to her work.
Anthon Astrom studied the natural sciences and fine arts. Since 2002, he has been a university lecturer, programmer, and designer; since 2011 he and Lukas Zimmer are running the Zürich-based design studio Astrom / Zimmer.
Lukas Zimmer studied visual communication in Bern and at Rietveld Academy Amsterdam. He is involved in research projects at various universities, and, since 2007, he has been a freelance graphic artist, based in the Woods, Zürich. In 2011, he founded Astrom / Zimmer, together with Anthon Astrom.