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At the opening of the new "Jesuit Library Zurich" on March 1, around 200 guests wanted to see what emerged after three and a half years of construction at the Hirschengraben: The Jesuit Provincial Christian Rutishauser SJ called the new library a place of "knowledge and dialogue" in his opening speech. Dr. Bettina Spoerri spoke in her lecture about libraries as a public space for "social network".

The interest in the new library rooms was great, where the three book collections of the Jesuits as well as the Swiss Provincial Archives were brought together with 100’000 books. The cultural mediator Bettina Spoerri, who runs the Aargau Literature House, took the many guests with her speech on an inspiring tour through the cultural history of library life and writing on this opening evening. With her lecture on “The Vision of a Perfect Library”, she also explored the question using the example of the Public Library in New York: In the age of digitalisation, does a library in which book covers can be read locally still make sense at all? Father Provincial had already given the answer in his greeting: Yes, of course! The four million construction costs (architectural firm “Sievi & Stoller”) had been well invested. They were raised from the sale of the editorial building of the now discontinued magazine "Orientierung" as well as with the help of foundations and the Roman-Catholic Church of Zurich. After all, a library is more than just a collection of bookshelves, but a cultural site, an institution of formation, and a platform for encounter. That is why the new series of events “Book & Formation” is also available, which starts March 28th.

Above all, a library must be open to the public, and this is exactly what is new about the Jesuit Library: it is affiliated to the NEBIS Library Association and participates in the future project Swiss Library Service Platform, as announced by the director Anita Schraner. Bettina Spoerri also emphasized the public character: “For example, a library like the one in New York with 50’000 users is a democratic “information office”, a place of refuge from the hectic metropolitan life and mediates a “public living room culture “. Esther Schmid Heer presented the archive and its significance, while Nikolaus Klein SJ spoke about the holdings of the library. The archive also contains documents on the Federal Article of 1848 on the prohibition of the Jesuits in Switzerland, including a documentation of the public controversy, which led to the change of the Swiss Constitution by a public referendum in 1973.

www.jesuitenbibliothek.ch.

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