Bibliotheca I has a successor: Bibliotheca II.

The fall seminar that I co-taught with my friend and fellow Berkmanite John Palfrey last semester at the Harvard Graduate School of Design was built around three nodes: the history of the library as an institution from antiquity to the present; case studies in the design and construction of contemporary libraries; and the development, design and discussion of elements that might make up the library of the future. So as to give the seminar a problem-solving character, four half-sessions were dedicated to challenges currently being faced within the Harvard libraries. These sessions, organized with the expert help of Anne Whiteside (director of the Loeb Design Library) and Jeff Goldenson (of the Law Library Innovation Lab), were opened up to the Harvard library community.

The momentum of the seminar was such that, with financial support from Harvard’s Library Lab, Jeff, Anne, Ben Brady and I have gone on to organize a “library test kitchen” for the spring for the full development, building and testing of some of last semester’s student projects as well as the incubation of other brand new ones. Last semester’s work included flexible carrel designs, modular media/reading/event space structures for insertion into existing library facilities, networked scanning stations, spatial Googling, a radical rethinking of the reference desk, a navigational app for library exploration, as well as designs for district libraries in Bogota, Columbia and South Central Africa. Among other things, this semester’s work will include policy proposals, a

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We are initiating conversations with potential institutional partners for this venture including public and research libraries, as well as device and

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appliance development labs. Any takers?

Photo remix by Ben Brady

- January 16, 2012