[iDC] Is there a future for the public library

Rolf Hapel hapel at aarhus.dk
Thu Jun 30 07:25:47 UTC 2011

Thank you, Anne, for your inspiring thoughts on the future of the public library.  I really look forward to reading your coming book. The idea of the library becoming a process space for the practice of culture making in the framework of an open participatory learning network is great and very much in line with the thinking of our "Urban MediaSpace" -project, where we allocate plenty of physical space for all kinds of workshops, labs etc. to be used by the general public, partners, research and knowledge industry. Your image of a mash-up between various types of learning institutions to explain your vision makes me reflect on our thinking of the generalized 'mash-up library', a metaphor for the fact that the services of the library in the future will come from a variety of non-library sources including the users themselves.

And thank you, Jessica, for your rich entry - I will look through the links later, despite your warning :-). Your description of the library as a place that instills the ethics and values of the local community is undoubtedly true in US and UK, but hasn't been that clear in the rest of Europe. However, it has become more relevant to think of the library as community space and a lot of efforts have gone into the development of 'third spaces' for interpersonal connections, where one of the highlights are found in e.g. the relatively new main library in Amsterdam. In Denmark, the deconstruction of the traditional public library has led to a concept of 'Citizens Center' where third sector volunteer activities meets public sector services including library services. The label 'public library' is still preserved, though.


Rolf Hapel



City of Aarhus
City Hall, 8000 Aarhus C
Phone +45 89 40 93 00
Mobile +45 29 20 83 56


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