The Future of the Library

On February 11, Arts at MIT organised a conference inviting architects, researchers and library institutions to discuss the changing role of libraries as spaces for collections, research, technology and public engagement. More on the event here (talks of David Adjaye, Jeffrey Schnapp, Nader Tehrani, Ginnie Cooper and Chris Bourg, moderated by Ana Miljački).

The Future of the Library

Here are some ideas presented:

  • Before the library was related to mind, now the library is related to mind and body; a new visceral experience.
  • A new role not only to mirror the community in which the library is but also to be a projection of a diverse community (not a monolithic society ! — exemples of a London Whitechapel Idea Store by David Adjaye where the library is a new infrastructure to support diversity, a network, a building as a podium from the street to different services: dance, work spaces, cafés, media, language labs, the stack of books as a landscape, a new point to see the community. Another beautiful exemple RISD library (dorms for students are up in the building, the library is their living room).
  • The library as a place to make visible things, make visible connections, connect to sources, connect to people; — exemple of libraries of a design school, Melbourne School of Design library : before it was a place for accessing knowledge, now is a place of making connections, a place for collaboration, and a place for creation. The fab lab is near the library (making is a way of thinking) and also the university gallery that curates the creation of knowledge.
  • The role of curators in libraries: to choose is a political act.
  • The role of library as a debate space was mentioned; why ? because there is no other place in the city were people can debate: therefore the library in the city is no longer a palace of knowledge but the land of “creating people”.
  • “Library as a lab” and its pedagogical value (show the process and designs for experimental learning) : The library as a platform, lab, community center, showcae, switchboard, … but most of all as place and space.
  • “smart library”: all kind of information in the same place; abandon the storage function, create the access to information experience.
  • Connection and disconnection : what is the role of library as a place of introspection, contemplation, of reengagement, disconnection for a new connection: a new culture of connectivity.
  • The role of libraries as a promise to open education, MIT library director : “we don’t want to be gatekeepers, and moreover today there are no gates… so let’s push the research out”.
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