Photo by Krists Luhaers

Next week will mark two months since the permanent exhibition «Book in Latvia» is open to public at the National Library of Latvia. It is a story of the history of Latvian book trade in a global context, inspired by the new image of the library. Among the creators of the exhibition are renowned literarians, curators, designers and architects.

Stories Editorial October 20, 2016

The National Library of Latvia permanent exhibition «Book in Latvia» consists of four parts, which reveal the book from different angles — both as a material object and as a social and spiritual phenomenon. The authors of exhibition’s concept are the director of the National Library of Latvia Andris Vilks and historian Gustavs Strenga, the latter being also its main curator.

Each part of the «Book in Latvia» looks different than the rest, largely due to the work by architects Arnita Melzoba and Kārlis Melzobs from the architecture firm «Gaiss», who together with the graphic design studio «Associates, Partners et Sons» won the contest for creative concept of the exhibition and its implementation. «We managed to find a spatial framework that is able to embody the innovative approach, therefore the content and structure of the exhibition became the main impulse for selecting principles of the formation. Each thematic part is created as a separate entity — an object with its own form, structure, dominant colour and materiality that allows to foresee the given theme intuitively and to feel the special atmosphere,» says Melzobs. The solid wood furniture, made by «Kampenuss» in Cēsis, was also created exclusively for the exhibition.

The section dedicated to the history of book trade shows those books printed in Latvia and in the Latvian language, which have had a crucial impact on our nation’s culture and identity.  The micro exhibit «Senses» explores the bodily experience of a reader in his or her encounter with a book. Through different interactive activities one can feel, hear, see and even taste the book. «Power» looks at the book as an instrument of just that — both making the visitor an object of political manipulation and recalling the feelings readers must have had at least once, yielding to the power of a fascinating text.  The section «Spirit» not only explores the book as a medium of religious and secular spirituality but, with the help of an installation of a «live» book, transports one into the world of fantasy. The installation is designed so that the visitor, when physically flipping book pages, would affect the digital content, thus changing various visual and audio images. Reinis Adovičs, an engineer at the creative technology and design studio «Warp», says that the installation was the most complicated, but at the same time the most interesting work of the «Book in Latvia». Together with his colleague programmer Renārs Vilnis, they took care of the system architecture and programming of the exhibition.

The «Book in Latvia» has its own visual identity, integrated into the overall image of the National Library of Latvia. It was created by the graphic design studio «Associates, Partners et Sons» being in charge of all graphic design works for the exhibition. «The logotype is based on the idea that a good book broadens the horizons of our knowledge and perception. In our story a book becomes a star. Its pages are rays of knowledge,» explains Edgars Zvirgzdiņš, the founder and creative director of the studio. Whereas a graphic designer Una Bergmane emphasizes that, creating a graphic image for the exhibition, it was also very important to think long–term and «to resist trends in order to maintain a unified style that would look up–to–date even after five years».

The connection between historical contents and the present day, contemporary design and interactive solutions are among the reasons why the «Book in Latvia» could be of interest to different audiences. All texts are available in Latvian and English, while specially developed route map will make the visit an exciting experience for children and families. Entrance to the exhibition is free and it is open all days, except Sundays, at the National Library of Latvia. More information on the exhibition, its authors, opening hours and events can be found on the webpage of the library.