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Loraine Furter

Wanderbibliothek

At the beginning of the 20th Century, while the notion of library was being elaborated through Europe, shifting from private libraries to public and specialized ones (hospital, soldier’s libraries), the Bibliothèque Pour Tous / Schweizerische Volksbibliothek (Swiss Library for All) designed a special equipment to bring books throughout the country. The equipment consisted of wooden crates-bookshelves that could be transported by cart and carried by donkeys in the mountainous Swiss landscape, where they were both used for transport and display. Today, the remaining historical boxes are in Lausanne, displayed on a wall in the Bibliotèque Pour Tous — now named BIBLIOMEDIA — and new boxes have replaced the wooden ones. Also tailored specially for the library’s missions (Swiss fondation for the development of libraries and the promotion of reading - lending books to other smaller libraries), the new boxes are made of fabric and foam, to resist the frequent travels by post and avoid the waste of cardboard. Very few documents exist on the historical boxes and their maker is still unknown.

Today, at a time when the definitions and roles of the libraries are again challenged, I brought one of these wooden “wanderbibliothek” in Brussels — on my back this time — and worked on making new versions of it for a book exhibition at Rosa Brux. The plans of these new versions are published under an Open Source license, allowing them to continue their journey and to be modified for new uses.

Further research on the “wanderbibliothek” in progress!

Flyer by Clovis Duran

19 June 2015, version 1.0, license CC-BY-SA for my materials.