Library Music

Screenshot_02_06_13_13_05-2 This is an old art project I did in 2010 to make music from library circulation data. The Ghent University Book Tower is 20 stories tall + basements total of 24 floors. Each floor contains thousands of books which can be requested by our patrons. I mapped every book request to one note (floor level), and multiple book requests in a time interval to a chord. To find out how this composition would sound like, I was inspired by André Michelle’s famous ToneMatrix.

About hochstenbach

I'm a PhD researcher in computer science at IDLab Ghent University. Also I am employed at Ghent University Library, Belgium. In my free time I enjoy playing honky-tonk piano, literature and creating cartoons and comics.


  1. Mate we gotta talk 🙂 Your’s is more like an orchestra, i have thought about a “solo” work that could be composed from a person’s loan history; the classification system class would set the note, ontological variation/deviation (read: the distribution of subject terms) the vibrato or other modulation and the lenght of the loan period the user had it would set the note length. One year could be 365 beats.

    Mine is just a stupid idea, i congratulate you for actually making it happen!! This is cool stuff, i hope we can hear more about it at Cycling for libraries when we come to Gent in late June.

  2. Hey Mace! Sure, would be great to have you all in Gent in a couple of weeks. I tried several versions of this and it ends up with “less is more”, the pentatonic scale helps a lot to create nice melodies. Love the idea to create personalized music for library patrons. Imagine, having a little live performance with musicians playing your personal music when you checkout a new book, that would be so cool.

  3. Hi Patrick. I’ll take you up on that offer you know 😉
    Hi Mace. #ELAG2013 is passed. Now I can work freely for Cyc4Lib. Coming with an update (which hopefully will include Patrick 🙂 re Ghent visit and unconference this week.
    And O o o, how I would like to have an individual concert playing for each library user!

  4. Maybe the checkout machine could play the patron’s own music (instead of just the _beep_), and the emphatise the newest checkout as the final note lol? And the checkout slip would also include the notation printed on it.

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