C20 Library and Collabtive

The last library on our journey was the lovely C20. Established in mid-2008 in the centre of Surabaya, it is an independent library and coworking community space. Like Frontyard, this space is all about creating possible futures from a paucity of infrastructure in the city. They describe it like this on their website:

Founded initially in response to the problem of inadequate, fragmented information & library system and infrastructure in Indonesia, C2O mission is create a shared, nurturing space, building tools and resources for humans (and non-humans) to learn, work, and interact with diverse communities and surrounding environment—in other words, with the world around us—for a more sustainable, emancipatory future.

Copyleft with Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0, 2008 – 2017, some rights reserved.
Handcrafted with ♥ Free & Open SourceWordPressSLiMS, and Atom.
C2O is run by a registered nonprofit PERINTIS (Pendidikan Rangkai Informasi & Teknologi Swadaya) foundation.

Although this is the first time I visited, I already knew a bit about C20 from meeting Kathleen Azali at the Indonesia Update in 2016, where she presenting about digitising  knowledge.

C20 is also a great creative space where DIY is reinterpreted to decolonise design and localise solutions. I spoke to Andriew about that here.

The design emphasis at C20 is evident in the care and the thoughtful way of doing things as soon as you walk into the space.To enter the building, you walk through what we came to call a ‘building fringe’ of hanging plants. At the entrance are boxes of paperbacks for sale, as well as a notice board for the organic market that is held there weekly. As we are introduced to the space by Kathleen, happy cats slink around our feet and jump up on tables.

We notice the way the books are organised in the space immediately. Closest to the entrance are local books, about Surabaya and East Java, then the geographical scope widens. The sections are separated by small hand made cardboard dividers, in the non- fiction sections, according to place; in the fiction section alphabetically by author. The rarer books, that can’t be borrowed, have pink labels. These are nimble and elegant design solutions.

This library smells delightful. The reason comes out when we ask about protecting the books, from humidity and dust. Each book in the collection is pulled out, wiped down and returned to its shelf on a weekly rotation. Small bags of spices are placed between volumes: cloves, pepper, and other insect repellants. There is great flow of air, cats and people through the library space, which is connected to an outdoor social space, a gallery, a kitchen, and an upstairs workspace

Everything about the design of this library seems to have emerged from needs. It became a co-working space because people were using it that way; people started asking for internet access, so a membership system was designed. Kathleen is committed to open source tools. She taught herself SLiMs to manage the collection, and to cope with the cataloguing in a transparent way. People ask if they have books throught the C2O instagram account, and now they can be directed to the catalogue.



We did a presentation which we recorded. It was raining and the sound is not great quality- but you can get the gist.


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