WDPD2023 parody «De Bennies, Everlasting»

To strengthen mutual ties, show our love for our job and have fun together, employees of the KB National Library of the Netherlands (KB) and the National Archives of the Netherlands (NANeth) made a parody of Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction for World Digital Preservation Day 2023.

Read all about the making of the WDPD2023 parody ‘De Bennies, Everlasting’ by Jeffrey van der Hoeven and Remco van Veenendaal.

Open Digital Libraries poster

This poster is the final poster deliverable of the ODL-project. It sums up all we did during the project and when stapled together with all the other posters we made you create a book. The materials consists of recycled paper and ink rests.
Credits for the production of this leaflet goes to: Tariq Heijboer & Anne van den Dool, commissioned by the National Library of The Netherlands (KB).

Best WLIC IFLA Poster

At the World Library and Information Congress of the IFLA ODL (21-25 August 2023) participated in the competition for the best poster about an interesting project or in an area of work to be discussed with or shown to other congress attendees.

We did not participate with just a poster but with a quick guide to get you enthusiastic to start your own collaboration with creative students and artists.

Three years ago the national libraries of Estonia, Austria and the Netherlands started rethinking their position in the digital age. And decided that to move forward we needed to make the digital tangible again.

Create immersive experiences through creative installations and exhibitions by collaborating with these new target groups.

We put out calls for web-residencies, stepped into the curriculum of an art academy and a technical university and we traveled through Europe to find the lessons learned on how to build a virtual lab.

All these separate projects eventually created this big innovating energy that’s in its final form a representation of what collaboration can create.

Show the creative industry your (digitized) collection and they will give you new stories in many beautiful different forms, from augmented reality, to reflecting walls and satellite blow-ups. In the end its all about the stories behind the library collections and thanks to this experience we found new ways to tell them.

LIBER 2023 Library Innovation Award

The Innovation Award recognises the three abstracts submitted to the LIBER Annual Conference which best describe innovative work within the overall theme of the event; «Open and Trusted: Reassessing Research Library Values». The awardees were announced at the closing ceremony of the 52nd LIBER Annual Conference in Budapest, Hungary.

The criteria (in order of importance) for the Award were:

  • Level of innovation
  • Impact on the wider library community (especially the European library community)
  • Originality
  • Quality of the abstract

The three abstracts which best fulfill these criteria were selected by the Conference Programme Committee (CPC). The Award comprised the opportunity to present the winning paper at the 2023 LIBER Annual Conference in Budapest, free Conference registration, and travel expenses and accommodation. The award is funded by OCLC as part of the valued, multi-year collaboration between OCLC and LIBER.

Open Digital Libraries was one of the award winning projects in the KB abstract «Opening up library collections for creative reuse».

ODL Toolbox live

To make our experiences in the field of digital collections tangible in cooperation with industrial design and art academy students and to share how to set up a virtual lab, ODL has created a DIY toolbox.

In three different journeys you can see how to:

  • create a virtual lab;
  • do artistic experiments with artists;
  • creative experiments with students.

Including tips, tricks and learning points.

ONB Labs Art Program: Exploring the Artworks

Throughout the ONB Labs Art Program program, four artists—Lisa Puchner, Katharina Birkmann, Miguel Rangil, and Valentina Rodríguez Morales—harnessed the resources of the ONBs digital collections, such as the AKON archive, Botanical Illustrations, ANNO, and Travelogues, to create thought-provoking and innovative pieces. Each artist brings their unique perspective, employing diverse techniques and media to explore themes ranging from sound and image connections to memory, hyperconnectivity, and the reimagining of narratives.

Lisa Puchner – Horizon Noise

Lisa Puchner, a multidisciplinary artist with a background in sculpture, film sound technology, and radio production, explores the interplay between sound and image, as well as the concepts associated with sound and found structures in her artistic practice. As part of the ONB Labs Art Program, Puchner delves into the digital collection of postcards from the AKON platform, employing them as a source to abstract sound lines.

In her artwork titled “Horizon Noise,” Puchner harnesses the symbolic significance of the horizon depicted on postcards to set the tone for her exploration. While the visual representation remains abstract, the horizon itself represents notions of distance, travel, and desires. Just as postcards serve as projections of an idealized place, they also become screens that shape our perception of the horizon and the view it offers. Puchner’s artistic process involves reimagining and visiting different places through the acoustic translation of the horizon’s thin line between the earth and the sky. The absence of the actual built or natural landscapes depicted on the postcards is filled with the evocative melodies of the horizons.

Through this audio-visual experience, Puchner prompts the audience to listen closely to the differences in melodies between horizons, whether they are natural or man-made, mountainous or coastal. By abstracting and translating these views, she invites us to reconsider the aesthetics of historical postcards and how they shape our perception of a place. With a simple click, viewers can immerse themselves in a sonic journey that unveils the nuances and contrasts between various horizons, enabling a new perspective on the relationship between sound, imagery, and our understanding of place.


Katharina Birkmann – Flower City Venice or The Electric City. Exterritorial.

Katharina Birkmann, an artist with a focus on cross-disciplinary practices such as moving images, documentary theatre, and narrative multimedia installations, delves into the theories and practices of memory and spatial organization in her work. As part of the ONB Labs Art Program, she embarks on an exploration of various collections of the ONB, including Botanical Illustrations, ANNO, and the postcards, as well as the physical archive space itself, to create her thought-provoking piece titled “Flower City Venice or The Electric City. Exterritorial.”

In her artistic process, Birkmann delves into the notion of memory tied to specific places and the spatial arrangement of information, which has a long-standing tradition. She notes that even the term “archive” itself, derived from the Greek word “archeíon,” meaning “office” or “building,” implies the need for accommodation of documents. However, she highlights that, unlike fictional memory architectures, archival buildings conceal their fictional and fantastic nature behind a façade of neutrality. Through her exploration of virtual archives, Birkmanns work aims to simultaneously exist within the realm of space, reanimating hybrid impressions of space, time, memory, and knowledge.

Within her piece, Birkmann focuses on the historical development of the Würstelprater, a famous amusement park in Vienna, since 1895. This iconic location serves as a bridge between real places and fictional architectures, introducing intriguing concepts of representation, authenticity, visibility, and stories of simulation, re-naming, and virtuality. By utilizing the archival materials and embracing the potential to make archives experiential in a spatial context, Birkmann crafts scripts for storytelling, whether they be documentary or fictional in nature. This approach enables viewers to engage with and actively participate in the process of experiencing and actualizing history as a dynamic and captivating narrative.


Miguel Rangil -Hyperconnected Past

Miguel Rangil, an artist from Spain working in Austria, dedicates his research and artistic production to exploring new strategies in contemporary art that address the hybrid nature of humanity and the complex interplay between technology and nature. Within the ONB Labs Art Program, Rangil delves into the profound impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it not only shapes our future perception, understanding, and interactions but also influences our understanding of the past.

Rangil poses intriguing questions about the potential of AI as a tool that can reveal the essence of things and unify diverse datasets. To explore these questions, his project titled “Hyperconnected Past” employs various image generation and recognition methods based on machine learning, including StyleGAN2 and Computer Vision. Leveraging the ONBs digital collections of AKON and Botanical Illustrations, Rangil creates a concise web essay that offers a retrospective look into the essence of images.

By harnessing the power of AI and drawing inspiration from historical archives, Rangil seeks to uncover connections and patterns that transcend the boundaries of time. Through his exploration, he aims to shed light on the essence of images and their role in shaping our understanding of the past. “Hyperconnected Past” serves as a thought-provoking exploration of the symbiotic relationship between technology and humanity, revealing new perspectives on the complexities of our hyperconnected world.


Valentina Rodríguez Morales – Echoes of Experience

Valentina Rodríguez Morales, an artist from Colombia living and working in Austria, employs a creative methodology that seeks to reinterpret archival images using various techniques and media. Her focus lies in studying the image as a historical object, exploring its role as a document capturing a specific moment or as a recurring node that transcends time. By delving into these images, she uncovers new possibilities within unconventional narratives, establishing a compelling dialogue between the present and the past.

In the ONB Labs Art Program, Rodríguez Morales created her project titled “Echoes of Experience,” which takes the form of a digital open letter. Drawing inspiration from the Travelogues and AKON archives in the library’s digital collection, the project originates from her personal connection to the archive and her experiences as a migrant. The project’s foundation lies in the reconfiguration of collected texts, giving rise to a new metafictional archive that explores the sensations of foreignness and exoticism associated with arriving in a new territory, along with the stereotypes that accompany such experiences.

Visitors to the project are invited to navigate the narrative in a non-linear manner, allowing them to engage in an exercise of empathy and exploration of the unfamiliar. Through this immersive experience, individuals are encouraged to discover connections between their own experiences and the foreign landscapes depicted within the archive. “Echoes of Experience” invites viewers to reflect on their own sense of place and belonging, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities of migration and the transformative power of storytelling.


To explore all the artworks go to:


Building knowledge in a local library domain

The project ODL fosters creative engagement with digital library collections by means of artistic experiments. The National Libraries of the Netherlands and Austria ran a series of artistic experiments with artists and art students. The project aims for knowledge transfer in the library community in order to build awareness for the relevance of creative engagement with collections and to provide frameworks for designing artistic experiments with partners as well as lessons learned gained from the own activities.
The ÖNB Labs team ran staff education activities of different formats. Find out more in this blog post.


As soon as the artworks of our second artistic experiment, the ONB Labs Web Residency 2022, were released on the ONB Labs Artspace Sophie Hammer and Martin Krickl held a webinar for colleagues of the Austrian National Library’s Digital Library Department. Organizing projects for and with artists in order to open digital collections for creative reuse was a totally new topic for most attendees.
The presentation gave an overview of the project objectives with a strong focus on why cooperations with artists enable library staff to gain new perspectives on the library as an institution and on the way librarians handle library collections.
We prompted the colleagues to the Artspace and asked them for feedback, which we collected on a whiteboard.
The challenge for collecting feedback is to find the right balance between giving directives as facilitator to motivate attendees to contribution by avoiding to give too much information about the artworks that could influence their feedback. The feedback collected also touched the question of usability of the browser based artworks. Having this focus on the usability the feedback slot in the webinar may also be seen as a kind of user testing.

How much usability to users expect from artworks shown in a web browser?

Snippet from a feedback board


At the 1st Austrian Library Congress, which took place in Innsbruck the first week of May 2023, we offered a workshop entitled “Kunst in/aus Bibliotheken” (German for: Art in/from libraries). The workshop was designed to provide a framework for planning, organizing and hosting an Art program at a library no matter what the collections of the library are and what budget is available. Running artistic experiments is a great thing for community building also for small local libraries or OPL (One Person Libraries) may they have digital collections in their portfolio or not.
The framework we presented follows seven stages:

Framework for organizing Art Programs based on the ONB Labs Art Program 2022/2023

In the second part of the workshop we encouraged participants to design their own Art Program. The participants then sketched a rough outline for an artistic experiments addressed at pupils based on materials from a map collection. The team addressed questions such as the definition of the target group, the commitment of the own staff as well as the teachers involved, possible formats for regular exchange as well as the expected outcome of such an educational Art Program.

The design thinking framework may be useful for setting up an Art Program. Take a look at the different toolboxes (e.g. designthinkingforlibraries.com) and get inspired!

We are convinced that a quick design sprint is an effective method for shaping an Art Program, if facilitated actively. Without facilitation and a framework attendees might get easily lost.

Discussion forum

The ONB Labs Art Program artworks were presented at the Literature Museum at the beginning of May. The browser based artworks were exhibited at media stations in one room, while we set up a discussion forum in a second room. Placed on a sofa, we invited the artists of our Art Program and one of the advisors, Manuela Naveau, to tell visitors of the exhibition about their artworks, their making, the conceptual ideas behind the artworks and their perspective on library archives.
A discussion forum provides different perspectives though it definitely needs facilitation and good questions to start with.

participants of the ONB Labs Art Program Finissage forum

It’s all about facilitation

The ONB Labs team used different formats for engaging library staff with Art Programs. Each format offers specific advantages for different outcomes. Collecting feedback in the sense of a mini user testing may be especially useful, when their are some open questions on how to display the artworks so that user’s engage with them. Design thinking methods offer a very powerful toolbox for wireframing an Art Program, especially when the way to go is not yet clear. A discussion forum allows for different perspectives and enables the artists to tell about their work in their own voice.
All formats definitely need facilitation.

Exploration & Exchange – The ONB Labs Art Program Finissage

The ONB Labs Art Program 2022/2023 was ONB’s third artistic experiment to foster creative use of digital library collections. Four art students created four browser based digital artworks. For the release of the artworks in our ONB Labs Artspace we set up a temporary physical exhibition at the Literature Museum of the Austrian National Library.

ONB Labs team members Sophie Hammer and Martin Krickl together with art students and advisors of the ONB Labs Arts Program

The ONB Labs Art Program was ONB’s third and most extensive project for fostering creative use of digital library collections. For this project we invited art students from three Austrian art universities to make digital artworks based on documents from four different digital collections. The outcome were four digital artworks that can be explored in the ONB Labs Artspace.

The ONB Labs Art Program was not only about artworks, it was also a program for comunity building. The ONB Labs gained new experiences from the collaboration with art students and art educators. Therefore, we wanted to get together as a comunity of practice and came up with the idea of a Finissage event.

Exhibiting browser based artworks

The ONB Labs Art Program Finissage took place at the Literature Museum of the Austrian National Library. The whole process of planning and designing the event was done in close collaboration with the artists and the supervisor Manuela Naveau. We agreed on having a kind of exploratory space for the artworks in one room while having space for discussion and exchange in the entrance hall of the Literature Museum.

That digital browser based artworks need displays for presentation was clear. Having only a small budget at disposal, we designed four media stations. We kept the design simple in order not to distract too much from the artworks.

Each artist added additional material to the media stations. Katharina Birkmann added a 3-D model of the imaginative architecture of her artwork. Miguel Rangil, Valentina Rodriguez and Lisa Puchner, who used historical postcards for their artworks, arranged repro prints of historical postcards around the media station.

Miguel Rangil stitching postcards on a wall behind his artwork

Forum for exchange

A discussion forum was opened in the second room. We invited visitors to stroll between the two rooms. Seated on a sofa, the ONB Labs team members Sophie Hammer and Martin Krickl invited the artists and the supervisor Manuela Naveau to share their perspective on the Art Program.

Max Kaiser, Sophie Hammer and Martin Krickl with participants of the ONB Labs Art Program Finissage forum

A small exhibition catalogue

Reimagining Archives: The ONB Labs Art Program

The ONB Labs Art Program was ONB’s third and most extensive artistic experiment for the ODL project. We invited four art students to engage creatively with our digital collections. Take a look at the results!

Our third artistic experiment greatly benefited from the lessons learned in the first two programs and from feedback and exchange with project partners. While the first two programs had an international focus and targeted artists at different experience levels, the third program addressed students from Austrian art universities (University of Applied Arts Vienna, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and the University of Art and Design Linz) as its target audience. For the artistic supervision of the program and the jury, we were able to enlist Irene Posch and Manuela Naveau, both professors at the University of Art and Design Linz.

Posters promoting the open call for the ONB Labs Art Program

Exploring Digital Collections

In consultation with Irene and Manuela, we opened four digital collections of historical holdings for artistic exploration, connecting them to relevant contemporary topics. These collections include:

  • Wiener Zeitung Newspaper: Approximately 34,000 editions spanning 1703 to 1882, which had previously proven fruitful during the web residency.
  • Digitized Postcards: Around 75,000 postcards from the late 19th century to the 1940s. They were selected for their geographical approach facilitated by the AKON project’s user-friendly interface.
  • Botanical Illustrations: A visually appealing collection of approximately 1,800 digitized watercolors by court botanists Franz I., Mathias Schmutzer, and Johann Jebmayer, sourced from the ÖNB’s image archive.
  • Travel Reports: English, French, and German reports from 1501 to 1850, compiled into a bibliographic corpus in research projects such as “Travelogues — Perceptions of the Other” and “Ottoman Nature in Travelogues” (ONiT). Many reports include illustrations and maps.

These collections are available as images, with digitized postcards and botanical illustrations accessible in their visual form. The newspaper editions and travel reports were offered as both images and searchable full texts.

From Kick-off to Mid-Term Checkpoint

At the beginning of the ONB Labs Art Program, we organized a kick-off workshop where the students were provided with information about the history and structure of the collections and introduced to the materials. Experts from the collections and a representative from the Wiener Zeitung familiarized the students with the history of the selected holdings and presented original items. Even though the students in the Art Program exclusively work with digital holdings, knowledge about the materiality of physical holdings can sometimes be indispensable for artistic work.

In January 2023, we organized a mid-term workshop at the University of Arts Linz to gather feedback and assess the progress of the works. This workshop served as an essential checkpoint in the creative journey, providing an opportunity for participants to share their insights and receive guidance.

The Final Phase

After the deadline for completing the artworks at the end of February 2023, we entered the crucial phase of integrating them into the ONB Labs Artspace, working closely with the artists to ensure that their works fit the Artspace environment while maintaining their original essence. Through ongoing collaboration and consideration of technical and aesthetic aspects, we decided on the visual presentation and facilitated interactivity, resulting in an immersive amalgamation of artistic expression within the digital realm.

Celebrating the ONB Labs Art Program Finissage

The final results were launched in the Artspace on the 8th of May 23 and presented at the ONBs Art Program Finissage, an event we held at the Museum of Literature in Vienna. We look forward to sharing more about the event in an upcoming blog post. 

To see, explore and experience the works go to https://labs.onb.ac.at/artspace/

Books make friends – poster

This poster is one of the deliverables of the project with the NLN master students. All 10 projects are summarized in this poster. Credits for the production of this leaflet goes to: Tariq Heijboer & Anne van den Dool, commissioned by the National Library of The Netherlands (KB).