The basic holdings of the library were brought together as a result of passionate collecting. Daniel Rohner (1948–2007) followed contemporary art up close for over forty-five years and created a collection of exhibition catalogues and monographs in the process. He purchased his first books in London and Paris at the age of nine. In good times or bad—he always continued to collect with the same intensity. The uncompromising quality, the commitment to art that distinguished him was what made his collecting activities possible in the first place.
Daniel Rohner made lots of notes, copied things from his books for nights on end. For him, the moment and intensity of the work were central. He organized his collection of books and reorganized it again, created extensive displays of books—he spread out and stacked up books on all the flat spaces in a room, including the floor. The stacks were altered again every couple of hours so as to create new arrangements. This associative way of working was decisive when setting up the library—and, thanks to RFID technology, the distinctiveness of this approach to collecting books still shapes the order of the Kunstbibliothek and the Werkstoffarchiv today.
His collection is supplemented with extensive holdings of literature on casting technology, restoration, and sculptural art from the collection of Felix Lehner, the owner and founder of the Kunstgiesserei St. Gallen. With their collections, Daniel Rohner and Felix Lehner provided the basis for the Sitterwerk Foundation as a place for research on art and its production.
Since its establishment, current books or historical volumes from treasured donations have continuously been added to the Kunstbibliothek. It is a specialized library at the interface between art and its production. Topics such as handcraft, material knowledge, and restoration are covered here, just as the monographic or thematic presentation of art in exhibition catalogues. The Kunstbibliothek thus not only informs a specialist audience; with its dynamic order, but is also an innovative, inspiring, and barrier-free library for the public.