Posted by: bluesyemre | April 23, 2018

Beyond tables and chairs: The #Library as facilitating platform by Christian Lauersen


Text of my talk at the LIBER LAG Conference in Vienna April 18 – 20 2018

Hi all, my name is Christian. I’m with The Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen and is head of Roskilde University Library, Faculty Library of Social Sciences and The Administrative Library. I’m really thrilled to be with you here in Vienna to talk about the library as a place.

I find it a bit ironic that I’m talking in a session called ‘Learning Centers’ when I, well hate is a strong word, but I really have some big issues about the term ‘learning center’ used in library context. To me libraries are very much about learning and about people meeting, collaboration and talking. The library is also about collections for sure but a collection in itself is not the goal, the goal is to support learning, education and research and libraries are great at that so let’s just call it a library.

This is a library architecture conference and I have heard many great talks on library architecture the last couple of days. but I am not gonna talk about library architecture. I am not gonna talk about buildings, refurbishment or where to pick the best tables and chairs. I am not gonna talk about the wonders of having a landmark architectural piece of eye candy of a library building. I am gonna talk about the library as a place for what is has always been about: Learning, education, research and enlightenment and how we can actively empower that through the library as a physical space. I will use our Data Lab at The Faculty Library as a case for this but it is important to say that the idea can be applied in many areas.

What makes a great place? And is a library without books still a library?

But first I like to ask you two questions.

Is a physical library without any physical books or journals still a library? Imagine your library and take away all the books and journals – is it still a library? Is it the books and journals that defines a building as a library. Or is it something else?

[this question gave spark to a lively discussion among the audience most pointing at, that the aim and value of a library building in 2018 were beyond the storage of a physical collection]

In a world that is becoming more and more digital this is not only a rhetorical or philosophical question. It is a crucial question – at least in Copenhagen. And actually also an essential question we should never stop asking ourselves – what is a library and what makes it significant and valuable. I don’t believe that a physical collection defines a library building, it is a big part of our legacy and identity as libraries but the scope and the meaning of the library has always been greater than a book collection.

Next question: What makes a great place? Try to think about a place that you were recently that just made you feel good and comfortable, that made you feel safe and welcome. That is a subjective feeling what defines what one find a great place but I find it really useful, whenever I’m in a place where I really feel good, where I feel that I belong, to think about what it is about that place that make me feel like that. And then I start thinking that about how to take some of that and maybe transfer it into the library space. Chances are that I’m not the only one who feel that way about that place.

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