At the extreme end of this spectrum is an ambitious new library in the works in Aarhus, Denmark. This high-tech “urban mediaspace” is being designed to function as a city center: It will have books, but it will also house government-services offices, artist studios, start-up businesses, space for performances, a café, a tram station, and other 21st-century amenities.
Look, I don’t know what this is. Is it a library? If so, will it just be a library because (some part of) it is called that, or because some essential element of its function is identified, by its users, with libraryness?
The essential element that I see here — and love — is the facilitation of conversations. Give people diverse reasons to come together in a particular space — and not just as spectators, but as doers — and surely something collaborative and intriguing can happen. And I can see that element making this space a library — depending on the space planning — depending on how the ideas of conversation and collaboration are framed.
Or, heck, I can see it all being a big awkward mess, or a bunch of people scurrying around not talking to one another. But maybe I should go to Denmark one of these days, see how it works out.
Toward the end, the article also mentioned ways that various libraries are engaging with people’s drive to create, not just consume, content, now that the barriers to doing that are so low (“In Helsinki, Finland, patrons have access to guitars and keyboards from the central library and can book a small recording studio to produce a music video”; score two for Scandinavia).
OK, so I don’t know what The Future(s) of the Library look like more than anyone else, but public space, collaboration, and creation? I can go for those themes.