The Library of the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry

The ICI Berlin is an independent center for culture and research dedicated to exploring how diverse cultures can be brought into productive – not destructive – confrontation. It understands ‘culture’ in a broad sense to include cultures that define themselves according to varying identities, spaces and discourses. With the aim of confronting cultures in this sense with one another productively and as samples, the ICI Berlin designs “core projects” that, in turn, provide a starting point and focus for the activities of an interdisciplinary and international team of fellows. Following its establishment the Institute launched its inaugural core project of “Tension/Spannung” with evolving focal points in October 2007. The current core project is ERRANS.
To complement its core projects that ICI Berlin also hosts diverse scholarly and cultural events, most of which are open to the public. Also, its series of publications on “Cultural Inquiry” (Verlag Turia + Kant) has established its own reputation. The Institute’s site in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg was carefully selected; its architecture designed specifically to create spaces conducive to differing forms of communication and concentrated thought.
Our small team looks after the fellows and events on multiple levels: administratively, conceptually, technologically and with our library.
The library’s concept is tailored to the interdisciplinary and individual research of the Institute’s fellows and houses the ICI Edition, the archive of ICI events. To assist the core projects and in close collaboration with them it acquires selected research literature, predominantly in English, which is the ICI Berlin’s working language. The collection concentrates on key works in contemporary philosophy, gender and queer studies, cultural and literary studies, anthropology of art and cultural anthropology, postcolonial studies and the history of science. Its profile mirrors the development of the Institute. The library also supports the activities of the ICI fellows, such as in organizing workshops or conferences, by furnishing and disseminating additional resources upon request. With the ICI Edition – video recordings of ICI events on DVD – it is also compiling an archive of hose events that cannot be made available online.
To meet individual needs for research literature, the ICI Library acts as a facilitator of collections from external libraries and institutions for the ICI Berlin’s users. It researches and accesses material through local or inter-library loans, in print or electronic. More than a handful of fellows have arrived with the intention of relying entirely on the ICI Library’s interlibrary loan service. The library director and two assistants make every effort to ensure these expectations are fulfilled as much as possible. Once per year, also, the otherwise-quiet library becomes a different space altogether. That’s when cooperation partners, book traders and many others who avidly follow the ICI Berlin and its library, gather for the ICI Library Event – a festivity whose program is jointly determined by the fellows and staffers of the ICI – for performances, readings, or cinema screenings. By the next morning, however, the bar will have reverted to its original guise, that of a periodical shelf.