Dynamic Order Structures thanks to
RFID Technology

The inventory of around 19,000 books is accessible to the public as a reference library. This inventory is currently being recorded and catalogued. At this time, 16,000 books have already been processed from a library-science perspective and can be called up on the Sitterwerk catalogue. In a pilot project, an RFID reading device makes it possible to find the books in the Art Library. This allows for a continuous inventory and thus a dynamic order. The Library can be adapted to the user, who can bring together subject-specific or also associatively related books in the shelves. Serendipitous discoveries thus become possible in the Art Library: when people search for specific books, they find other books that they had not been looking for but that, nevertheless, lie within the scope of their interests. The compilations of books are saved in the database so that this principle also leads to unexpected and yet specific discoveries in the digital catalogue.

Continuous Inventory by means of RFID Technology

In the Art Library in the Sitterwerk, the books are equipped with RFID tags instead of conventional written labels. It is possible to activate these radio frequency tags in a targeted manner by means of an antenna and radio waves so that the tags send out specific signals. This means that the tags, and with them also the books, can be identified by the antenna. An automatic mechanism regularly leads the antenna past the bookshelves so that it can determine the current location of every book and feed it into the digital library catalogue.

This accessing of the book inventory in the space by means of the RFID reading device makes the inventory of the library possible in such short intervals that it is possible to speak of a continuous inventory. This enables a dynamic order for the books. In contrast to a library accessible by means of conventional written labels, the books in the Art Library in the Sitterwerk do not have a fixed location. They can, in principle, be placed arbitrarily anywhere in the shelves. Thanks to the continuous inventory, every individual book can always be found even without a permanently defined location since the current location is always noted in the digital catalogue.


The Principle of Serendipity as a Novel Search Option

Thanks to these prerequisites, the order structure can be changed on an ongoing basis as a result of use and management, and be adapted to users. Individuals who work on a topic in the Library are able to bring books on it together and then place this compilation in the shelves. What is currently taking place can be illustrated through the selection of books — for example artists having their work realized in the Kunstgiesserei or the Photo Lab, newly developed production and restoration techniques, or novel library access systems. Individuals can also be invited to give expression to their interests through bringing together a personal selection of books.

As a result of this dynamic order structure, new options to search for and find books arise for the different users of the library. The way in which books are grouped and brought together on the shelves at a given moment allow for so-called serendipitous discoveries: when people search for specific books, they find other books that they had not been looking for but, nevertheless, lie within the scope of their interest.

The principle of serendipitous discoveries is depicted on the level of the digital catalogue and broadened: groups of books that have been brought together are documented in the database and represented graphically as a virtual shelf. As a result, new search options are also created in the digital catalogue: in addition to conventional searches according to author, keywords, etc., it has recently also become possible to search in the Sitterwerk according to the context of a book. Which books stand nearby it at the moment, or with which books has it already been brought together? Through the saving and graphic representation of all the ways in which books have been brought together in the virtual shelves, the possibility of unexpected and yet specific discoveries extends along a time axis.

Linking the Material Archive and the Art Library

The digital catalogue in the Sitterwerk also encompasses the Material Archive so that samples of materials can also be part of compilations. A sensitive table equipped with RFID antennas recognizes the materials and books lying on it, which are depicted in the database and can be saved as a compilation. As a result, digital linkages are created in a natural manner between the Material Archive and the Art Library in the Sitterwerk. (um)