The Adult multi-lingual library


The Adult multi-lingual library

“The library is a small and parallel world: the books wander between the shelves as their readers wander the world, carrying with them their emotional history.”

– Marit Benisrael, ARTEAM member

The Adult multi-lingual library provides residents with books in their mother tongue, and a safe and welcoming place to read, meet and study. The library contains more than 3,500 books in sixteen different languages – from Hebrew and Arabic to Tagalong, Nepali, Chinese, Hindu, Tigrinya, etc., servicing the different needs of the various migrant communities. There is also a section for children books in all the mother-tongues of the diverse communities in order to support parent’s efforts to maintain their culture from their home countries.

The Library was founded based on the belief that reading is a basic right. The library seeks to create for migrants and asylum seekers an “exterritorial space” that enables to raise above the harsh daily reality- to imagine and be inspired.

The Library was originally planned as a temporary structure – that can be dismantled – somewhat like a “Magic Box”. The architecture of the library consists of two main structures that resemble a book shelf, and in between them is the heart of the library- a space to read and study, to meet people and to hold spontaneous social gatherings.

There is a special way the books are organized in the library;


Sorting by Emotions

01-Emotional-categories-labels (1)

During the first two years of the library run, the artist collective that established the Garden Library implemented a unique, participatory, indexing and cataloguing system based on readers’ emotional responses to the books they read.

When returning a book, readers were asked to choose one of seven emotion categories that best described how they experienced it: amusing, boring, bizarre, depressing, exciting, inspiring, or sentimental. A volunteer librarian would then enter the color-coded judgment into the lending database, adding it to the past history of responses represented on the spine of each book. The book was then placed back on the library shelves according to its latest classification.

In other words, each book’s “identity,” its categorization and placement, was never fixed, and could change with each new reader. The placement of each book was not decided by popular vote, but by the most recent reader, using a system that everyone could impact and in which every participating reader’s input counted.

The cataloguing system perpetually restructured the layout of the book collection, creating at any given point in time a transient “wandering map” that visualized the current composition of readers’ opinions and preferences.

The instability and transience of the book arrangement, with each book marked by the record of its emotional history and the history of its wandering between categories and shelves, was intended as an echo of the spirit of the library and the destinies of its founders. In a country where refugees and migrant workers are not granted full recognition or rights, the cataloguing system was designed to be a symbolically empowering gesture that would highlight the readers’ individuality.

The Garden Library Database Visualization Project  (2012)

In addition to exchanging books you can also join other recreational activities at the library;
•    Hebrew and English classes: Fridays and Saturdays between 16:00-19:00.
•    Guitar classes: Fridays and Saturdays between 17:00-19:00.