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).

Book publication

KB booklaunch : : How Would You Like to Get Lampooned, My Lord?

KABK booklaunch : : How Would You Like to Get Lampooned, My Lord?

User Centered Work Spaces : : Haagse Bakkies

Haagse Bakkies (Hague less than half filled cup of coffee) is another installation by the Open Digital Libraries under the name «user centered work spaces». This time curated by Huibert Crijns, Dirk Huijsmans and Jessica Wevers of KB National Library.

The nuclear energy debate of the 1980s is depicted on the Haagse Bakkies installation. This was made in collaboration with the students of the Industrial Design program at the Technical University of Delft. They used the rich digital newspaper collection in Delpher as a source for the content of the exhibition. The students thus send visitors on a journey of discovery and ensure that they discuss provocative and social topics with an open and curious attitude.

The exhibition shows what an exciting sanctuary the library is. A place where everyone is welcome to research any topic and explore new perspectives on controversial debates. The library is a haven for freedom of expression.
The intention of the installation is to give visitors all sides of the story by showing different perspectives on a subject. This is also represented by the different silhouettes of the heads on the posts. By making all voices heard, the visitor is helped to create a complete and well-founded opinion.

The expo can be visited in November and December 2022 at KB, national library of the Netherlands.

Gestures of exploration : : Strolling & Scrolling

How do artists relate to digital archives of historical library documents? How do artworks based on these archives reflect the specific essence of these documents?

For the ONB Labs Web Residency 2022 two artists engaged with two selected digital collections. We are proud to present the artworks in our virtual Artspace.

Preview of artworks from Sînziana Păltineanu (left) and Ida Westh-Hansen (right)

For the scope of fostering creative use of digital library collections the ONB Labs ran a second art program for the ODL project. The ONB Labs team decided again for the format of a Web Residency, launching an open international call at a time of ongoing Covid restrictions.

The residency program

The residency program was an open call, open for everybody to hand in applications. The ONB Labs asked applicants to send a portfolio and a project idea. The Vienna school for poetry (schule für dichtung) supported us with disseminating the call and finding Heike Fiedler as additional juror for the selection process. Seth Weiner, who already accompanied the first Web Residency as curator, selected the residents together with Heike and the Labs Team. He gave advice throughout the whole process, especially on the possibilities of the Web browser for interactive presentation.
Each ONB Labs Web Residency offered a budget for the implementation of the project, service from the Labs Team and the advisor, as well as publication of the artwork in the ONB Labs Artspace and promotion.

The data

For the 2022 Web Residency the Labs team chose two rather distinct datasets, a collection of approximately 5.000 aerial photographs from the early 1930s and historical issues of the newspaper “Wiener Zeitung” dating from 1703 to 1882. The aerial photographs were subject of public engagement in a former crowd sourcing project, where users were invited to tag and evaluate locations and types of landscapes and settlements. Though the type of material is rather specific, we felt that these representations of landscapes from the past were a good starting point for artistic engagement. In order to counterbalance the visual material of the photographs we chose the “Wiener Zeitung” for its textual richness. Founded in 1703 as “Wiener Diarium”, the newspaper reported on “everything worthy of note / that has happened from day to day / in this imperial city of Vienna itself / as well as from other places from all over the world.” We wondered whether both collections were too specific for an international call, but the applications handed in showed that the question of relevance (what is relevant to whom and why?) of specific library documents brings unforeseen answers when these resources are opened for creative usage. Therefore, we did not pose any restrictions on the topics.

Video arrangement of Web Residency artworks

The projects

We received a range of very different applications, among them poetic and more text based projects, performative projects or even craftwork projects.

Thunder and lightning

The two ONB Labs Web Residency artists for 2022 were Sînziana Păltineanu and Ida Westh-Hansen. The Berlin based writer and researcher Sînziana Păltineanu worked on the intersection of fiction and history writing with her “multilingual interactive fiction” Thunder and lightning. Records of a passing snowstorm on the first Wednesday of the New Year. From the collection of historical issues of the Wiener Zeitung Sînziana selected the first issue of each year and crafted a serendipitous narrative by combining English, German and Romanian. The reader reaches a junction with each click that leads to unforeseeable turns, one time a text snippet taken from the Wiener Zeitung, next time a picture, one time a curious “fact” as reported in the newspaper, next time something to take away your imagination like “eodem ants”.

What the artist said:

“Being part of the Web Residency program at the Austrian National Library was a truly delightful experience. I had long wanted to find the time to craft an interactive fiction, when the occasion arose this year in spring at the ONB Labs. I thought it was fabulous that I could carry out my work in connection to such an experimental library lab. The team at the ONB Labs and the jurors created a space to virtually meet, offered constant support and insightful feedback throughout the months I spent researching and crafting this multilingual piece. I’m most grateful and also so excited that the artwork has just been released – I hope that it will be meaningful to many kinds of readers.”
(Sînziana Păltineanu)

Boon Scrolling

The Vienna based Danish artist Ida Westh-Hansen chose a selection of aerial photographs to combine them with snippets taken from her personal image stock to random collages. With every scroll a new setting appears, an ephemeral setting, because the visitor nevers gets back to the same setting again. The artwork titled Boon Scrolling reflects on the explorative gesture of scrolling while critically adressing the phenomenon of doom scrolling. Boon – i.e. a thing that is helpful and benificial – is meant to become the counterpart of doom.
What is also special about Ida’s work are the traces of the physical in the digital artwork. She literally cut out shapes from copies of the photographs chosen and tranferred the physical collages into the digital again. Sophie (ONB Labs/ ODL) also had the “boon” opportunity to visit Ida at her studio getting an insight into the making of Boon Scrolling.

Both artworks are based on specific documents taken from a library collection, but at the same time they are reflections on gestures of the digital human.

Visit the artworks at our ONB Labs Artspace and let yourself be taken away!


Alba Amicorum [2022]

A cooperation of the National Library of the Netherlands [KB] and the Royal Academy of Art [KABK], The Hague.

16 second year students of the Interactive / Media / Design [IMD] department developed interactive spatial experiences for the visitors of the KB by exploring the unique collection of the alba amicorum collection. These are friendship books from the 16th century and later, which can be seen as the precursors of today’s social media.

From digital archives to artworks

How may historical materials like newspapers and aerial photographs inspire artists?

The second ONB Labs Web Residency ran from April 2022 until the end of June. Two residents engaged with historical materials in two very different formats. Both will be presented in the ONB Labs Artspace in September 2022.

In April 2022 the ONB Labs launched a call for two Web Residencies to support artistic engagement with digitized archival resources. For the call two very different datasets were offered, issues of the “Wiener Zeitung”, one of the oldest newspapers worldwide, on the one hand and a collection of aerial photographs from the first half of the 20th century on the other.
The call was open for all genres whether physical and/or digital, poetical, visual, audio or any other genre that can be presented in a web browser.

We were impressed by the wide range of different applications we received. For the selection the ONB Labs team cooperated with two artists, Seth Weiner and Heike Fiedler, who work in different fields, and enriched the selection process with their different viewpoints. Taking into consideration a set of criterias, like innovation, feasibility and critical impetus among others, two applications were finally chosen for a funding.

The Berlin based artist Sînziana Păltineanu handed in a proposal for a “piece of interactive ficition, based on a selective reading of the digital collection of “Wiener Zeitung”, titled “Anachronistic rotations”. Over the course of the residency Sînziana Păltineanu further expanded the concept to a fictious walk through the “Wiener Zeitung”. Sînziana Păltineanu is – as noted in the application – interested in using fiction as an exploratory mode of writing based on archival research. Curator Seth Weiner was convinced by the idea as well as the use of the web browser for the narrative structure of the artwork. Heike Fiedler noted that “the experimental author Dr. Sînziana Păltineanu will take us into hidden spaces, going far beyond the one-dimensional aspect of words written on paper.”

The Vienna based artist Ida Westh-Hansen won the second residency for her concept on melting snippets from the public archive in an artwork of mixed materials, namely ceramics and paper. Her artwork may be interpreted as a stage for a “drama with landscapes and places”. Seth Weiner was “taken by the sculptural sensibility” shown in her portfolio and by the way “the work seems to operate with an acute sense of how material, both in its heaviness and fragility tells stories.” How Ida Westh-Hansen would combine the different materials and then translate the material artwork to a series of digital images, was promising for Heike Fiedler.

The ONB Labs Team will now integrate both artworks into the ONB Labs Artspace. The results will be presented in September. Watch out for the upcoming blog post on as well as on

Springtime is the right time for exchange

In Vienna ODL project members exchanged ideas and good laughs

In May ODL project teams gathered in Vienna for a workshop

Finally, after a long pandemic the teams gathered on site in Vienna. On the 17th and 18th of May, ODL team members from the KB and the Estonian National Library visited the Austrian National Library for a two-days workshop.
The workshop format offered the possibility to apply different tools from the design thinking and gamestorming toolbox in order to reflect upon our work accomplished and the steps ahead.
“Learning from each other” is a core “brick of ODL”. This includes not only the success stories but also challenges and pitfalls, though we are “facing similar problems”. You guess right! The “ODL tower” stood until the end.

After nearly two years of remote exchange over online applications, we really took advantage of using paper, sticky notes, whiteboards and a Jenga tower ;-).
The exchange meeting was also a good opportunity to evaluate the status at midterm and to discuss the workpackages ahead.
We are very much looking forward to the next exchange meeting at the KB!

Quattuor amicis

On Monday, May 23, the interactive exhibition «Quattuor amicis» opened in which the KB alba amicorum collection takes center stage. The temporary exhibition is a collaborative project between the KB and the KABK (Royal Academy of Art). Creative makers from the Interactive/Media/Design department therefore designed several interactive installations based on the collection. Feel, smell and experience the projects for yourself now!

The exhibition can be visited free of charge until Saturday 4 June during KB opening hours in the KB Atelier and in the Bidahal (the space upstairs and downstairs between the KB and the National Archive and the hall opposite the Museum of Literature).

Photos by Roel Backaert