Date: Thursday June 14 | PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS 20:00-21:30 | WORKSHOP 16:00-18:00
Location: LEESZAAL ROTTERDAM, Rijnhoutplein 3, 3014 TZ 

You are invited to join us on the 14th of June for the festive launch of this Special Issue #6 – XPPL. Join us for an afternoon workshop and an evening discussion in the context of shadow libraries, piratical text collections, and peer produced libraries. The event is facilitated by XPUB practitioners Alex, Tash, Joca, Alice, Zalán, Angeliki, with a guest contribution by Dubravka Sekulic.

Presenting: The XPPL

From April to June 2018, the practitioners of the Media Design Experimental Publishing Master course (XPUB) of the Piet Zwart Institute worked on XPPL: a project under the special issue INTERFACING THE LAW: an ongoing research project between XPUB and CONSTANT about extra-legal libraries, software and legal interfaces, intellectual property, and network catalogues. Every year we explore some facets of these issues, and XPPL is the result of this year’s collaboration.

XPPL stands for the Xperimental Potential Pirate Library, the Xperimental Private-Public Liaison, the Xperimental Pretentious Performative Labor, the Xperimental Platform for Potential Legality, the Xperimental Post-Public Library… It is both an experiment and a working prototype for a distributed network catalogue and library that you can run and install on several machines and share/synchronise with the same bibliographical database. It starts at XPUB, but can go anywhere we want it to.

Initially developed as a in-house tool for the XPUB course, XPPL is a project aimed at people who are studying and researching within and outside formal education, or as we like to call them: knowledge comrades. XPPL provides a web interface and hosts a curated catalogue of books, articles and other material. Its distributed architecture is open to instances of uploading and downloading, and allows for the collective editing of its content. In XPPL, librarians can add and modify small collections of books that are connected by threads of thought, or follow a certain thematic, topic, or study path. We call these collections ‘stacks’. Rather than a bookshelf in a library, where books are lined up and often forgotten, the stacks on your kitchen table/nightstand/bathroom floor consist of books prone to be opened and reopened at any time. The stacks in XPPL are visible for others in the network to browse, annotate, update or shuffle.

Together with the stacks, XPPL exists as a distributed bibliographical database upon which various modes of reading and writing interfaces can be created. In its current version, the XPPL search interface allows for serendipity, while playful bots point to the invisible labour of librarianship and gaps in the collection are made visible, turning dormancy into potential. Furthermore, collective annotations turn the digital library into a social space; and visualizations of the collection in 3D forms allow users to sense the materiality of their books.

The XPPL is also a project of urgency. Today, the gradual loss of public libraries, the rise of corporate academia, and the systemic use of digital rights management, make access to knowledge increasingly difficult. As a result, and despite significant efforts from free culture supporters and open access initiatives, media piracy has became an unspoken practice that cannot be decoupled from the acts of researching, reading and studying. However, this practice is often fragmented, and splintered by way of legal and economic barriers. We recommend books in person, jot down reading lists on paper, then send unsteady links via email or download already known items from the haystack of existing repositories.

Most importantly, under these circumstances, such practice is reduced to the act of file sharing, and fails to highlight the discursive nature of these exchanges, their ability to form new resources, to nurture collective forms of learning and an active research culture.  In response, XPPL is a platform and network that offers another way to think about, aggregate and intervene in these processes.

The presentations and discussions are free to attend. During the workshop we will show you how you can make use of the software, join the existing network or create your own.  If you want to join the workshop, please send an email to:


The XPPL is released under the AGPL license. It is a continuous work in progress. Through workshops, guides and discussions the library is open to future generations of students, peers, and researchers to augment, intervene and learn.

Special Issue 6: Interfacing the Law / XPPL is a collaboration between XPUB and CONSTANT, with support from HET NIEUWE INSTITUUT, MEMORY OF THE WORLD & LEESZAAL.