Books. How I love books. But old ones? I never knew what to do with an ancient piece of old parchment and some smelly leather. Although these rather invaluable pieces of history radiate with some mysterious energy, my curiosity is always winning.
It was the same with the task “Friends with an Old Book”: I didn’t know exactly what will come during the year and I couldn’t even imagine what all of this was going to be about. Shortly after, it became clear what all of this meant and I was very relieved we didn’t have to read the whole book, but rather to learn the value of a historical work about architecture.
The completion of the first task went smoothly despite my rather unformidable skills in internet research. I learned that there are plenty of important and interesting books available online I wasn’t even aware of. It is not the same though to leaf trough a virtual pdf in comparison to have a book physically in the hand. So, I was really excited to meet my book in “person”, actually see this artefact and feel its weight in my hands. For that, I had to go to the Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln which was something new for me, even though I have visited Einsiedeln several times before.
I was really impressed by the library and the atmosphere that it creates. When it came down to distributing the books, I was told that my assigned book wasn’t there at the moment and that I had to get another one. I was disappointed and my motivation for the task wasn’t that great anymore and until then it all went downhill … For every task, I wasn’t sure which book I had to work with and finally, I ended up suspecting that I started working with a book that wasn’t even the one assigned to me. Obviously, I am even worse of a researcher than I thought …
Because of these confusions about which book I actually had, I was quite annoyed. It prevented to truly get to know my book, that should’ve become my “friend”, which is a pity.
Regardless of the obstacles, I enjoyed the format of the tasks because it’s unusual and it was fun to do something differently. Also, I enjoyed the last task as it was something that brought some more liveliness to the whole assignment and the books and required some creativity and imagination! For me it made much more sense like this, talking about the books. It was interesting to see actually how much information one can get out a book without understanding it fully.
In the end, I think I could draw some lessons from these tasks and the whole assignment definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities old, historical books can offer us and how important it is for architecture (and not only) to take recourse to these texts and illustrations.