Books and Readers

"The library is a small and parallel world: the books wander between the shelves as their readers have wandered/are wandering the world. They carry with them their emotional history."
- Marit Benisrael, ARTEAM member


The books and readers section of the website is currently under construction. This section will display an interactive visualization of the library's book collection, and offer visitors an interface for filtering and sorting the books upon virtual shelves in multiple informative ways.

The library’s unique cataloging system is based on the readers’ emotional responses to the books they read. The system comprises an evolving and cumulative database in which each book’s current location and categorization history are registered.

The customizable visual mapping of the database will familiarize site visitors with the library’s reader communities, their likes and dislikes. The history of the emotional judgments will permit dynamic illustration of “wandering maps,” displaying past and present categorizations and locations.

A wiki feature will appeal to visitors from around the globe to complete the information about each and every book in the book’s native tongue.

More about the sorting system

The Garden Library was created as a social-artistic urban community project. Established to serve the community of refugees and migrant workers that congregate in the Lewinsky Park, in south Tel Aviv, it aims to answer a concrete need as well as to manifest a socio-political stance.

The library has no security guard who checks and asks questions, no walls and no door.

ARTEAM, the artists collective that initiated and produced the Garden Library, sought to break away from traditional categories of classification, and to realize a sorting and indexing system that would playfully manifest the values of an open society. Accordingly, the books are not catalogued by conventions of genre or author name, but rather according to reader input.

On the inside back cover of each book is a sticker asking (in the language of the book): “How would you describe the book?” and listing seven emotions the book may evoke: amusing, boring, bizarre, depressing, exciting, inspiring, sentimental.

Emotional categories stickers (English, Nepalese, Mandarin, Thai)

A reader returning a book is asked to choose the word which best describes his or her feeling, and the color-coded judgment is added to the past history of responses on the spine of the book. The book is then placed back on the shelves according to its new color-coded, emotional classification.

Demo history stickers (Mandarin, English, Bengali, French)

ARTEAM sought to create a system that anyone could impact and in which every participant’s input was counted. For this very reason the placement of the book is not decided by popular vote, but by the last reader.


The following illustration demonstrates the dynamic classification and organization of a multiple-language library according to categories derived from reader input.


Initial placement

The collection will be initially organized according to language and index numbers. The colors on the top of the book spines mark different languages.


Notations after first feedback round
Reader feedback will be represented in colors on the lower part of the book spine. Each color will mark a category of response, and will determine the book’s placement within the library shelves. The language order will be retained within each category.

Notations after two feedback rounds
The last feedback round will be represented as the top mark on the lower part of the book spine. The last feedback round will determine the category assignment.

Notations after four feedback rounds
Each book will accrue the history of its readers’ judgments, as well as a record of its relative popularity. This dynamic cummulative database will structure the library’s dynamic system of classification and organization.