Media is loading

Other Contributors

This title was a collaboration between five Shift-Lab members: Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, Sarah Bryant, Macy Chadwick, and Tricia Treacy.


A collaboration between the five artists of Shift-lab, REF takes a simultaneously playful and critical look at how we ask questions and seek answers. The reference section in the library may seem obsolete in today’s digital information landscape, but in the past, a researcher could make discoveries by walking down an aisle of books or opening flat files of maps; research was an in-person sensory experience that our modern practice of typing keywords doesn’t provide. The variety of printing and binding structures in REF exudes a palpable love that all book artists have for the materials with which we make books. Though the booklets do not actually provide useful, coherent information, they do provide a thoughtful way back into the seductive charm of the unexpected discoveries one can make when browsing the reference section.

"As we designed our responses to traditional elements of the reference section, we used several dates as loose organizational principles to tie our work together:

1963: The publication of Automation and the Library of Congress

1991: The Gore Bill, which led to the World Wide Web as we know it today

1993: the publication of Planning Second Generation Automated Library Systems and the release of Mosaic, the web browser that popularized the World Wide Web

2001: the arrival of Wikipedia.

"Reference sources evolved slowly to answer specific types of questions that emerged over time as people sought to engage with information. These types of questions, asked repeatedly for many hundreds of years, were the catalyst for the production of the 15 standard types of printed reference that we were responding to. We each worked as leads on between one and four components, sometimes individually, sometimes collaborating with other Shift-lab members. We kept a google doc of all of our sources, materials, sizes, and images. Our aim was to create a reference section that operated the same way a library reference section would operate: creating and highlighting linkages, and answering (or posing) multiple questions about related material.

"Where possible, we used our selected dates and sources as material content for our components. Repeated language, names, materials, and images crop up in multiple places. The Bibliography, itself a traditional reference type, became a natural place to list our sources for the project." — Shift-Lab members


Shift-Lab, Big Jump Press


reference, archive, archives, library, libraries, research, technology, information


15 parts housed in a custom 23 x 29 x 12 cm archival document flip-top box.


Ascending accordion folder structure.




Printing methods include letterpress, risograph, screenprinting, laser printing, and digital printing. Binding formats include concertina, spiral bound, document binder, pamphlet, double pamphlet, folder, paper envelope.



Other Information

Edition 30 of 40. Signed by the artists. For more information, visit or