A version of this post, which I wrote with Victoria Ward and Sabine Jaccaud of the change consultancy Sparknow, is also on The Futures Company blog.
Recently Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten talked about their design of Birmingham’s future library as a “living room for the city”. More than just storage, a dynamic space for movement, openness and exchange. In a blog she calls libraries “the cathedrals of our millennia”, which seemed a useful precursor to last Saturday’s National Libraries Day
The future of the library is, in some ways, a paradox.The trends that are running against it are more obvious, especially when combined with the financial pressures facing the British libraries system. But there are a surpring number of trends running in its favour. When you look at them together, the library becomes an object which allows us to have a discussion about the notion of the ‘public’ in the digital age.
I spent some of the weekend in Newcastle (or more precisely Gateshead) at the DOTT ’07 exhibition which marked the close of this ambitious two year project. Three essential lessons for me, which won’t be surprising to those who know the work of John Thackara, who directed the project:
- Sustainability is about flows, not stuff
- Those flows have to include knowledge as well as materials
- Sustainability needs social, public, and community engagement
The project has been well-documented on the website, but it’s worth pulling out a few personal moments of illumination.