Bibliotecha: the beginning



Bibliotecha began its life in the hackathon Free Libraries for Every Soul, integrated in the Impakt festival, on the 22-23  November 2013.

Coordinated by Femke Snelting and Marcell Mars, the fourty-eight hours hackathon proposed an investigation into forms of access to books, mostly digital, but also in the intersections between paper books and the digital. In more detailed terms the projects undertaken tackled issues concerning the ecosystem of digital book publication, namely in the areas of input (scanning, creation and conversion), metadata, and distribution.

The Bibliotecha work group proposed to create a local, off-line digital library. Visible to the exterior world as an open hotspot, Bibliotecha prompts any user connected to the hotspot, either to donate or retrieving an e-book.

In order to have Bibliotecha up and running, most of the work went into the integration of two fundamental software packages – Calibre, for the addition, retrieval and sorting of books, and Recoll for searching within the library’s books content. More work went into setting up the system’s network configuration, the creation of upload scripts and interfaces, and construction of a physical interface – a paper book – meant to host the RaspberryPi responsible for running Bibliotecha. The whole system was running at the end of the 48 hours.

After the hackthon the first instance of Bibliotecha was installed at the Piet Zwart Institute’s lecture room, where it currently serves the needs of students and staff to exchange digital texts.