Monday 30th May 2016

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What will the library of the future look like?

As part of the London Word Festival, a night will be devoted to looking at what the library of the future might look like. Much more than just bricks and mortar, the public lending library has long been considered the cornerstone of an educated and literate population, but what lies ahead for the future?

Borrowing its title from Sidney Smith’s description of books, No Furniture So Charming gathers artists, writers, creatives, technologists and architects to present their vision for the library of the future. Be it a personal utopia, a visionary work of science fiction, a digital or practical re-imagining of user centred design or a call to action.

A crack panel of hardback, paperback and e-book judges will discuss and debate the merits of each idea as they pay homage to a revered space in times of change.


  • Nora Daly (British Library)
  • Charles Holland (FAT Architecture)
  • Chris Meade (if:book)
  • Phillip Jones (The Bookseller & co-founder of FutureBook)


  • Tom Armitage (Game designer and Technologist)
  • Kirsten Campbell (Writer and Educational games designer)
  • Rachel Coldicutt (Creative Producer)
  • Ruth Beale (Artist & Pamphlet Librarian)
  • Nicky Kirk (Architect, Amenity Space)
  • Peter Law (Reader of books and Digital producer)
  • Stef Lewandowski (Co-founder of Aframe, Clore Fellow)
  • Trenton Oldfield (Coordinator, This Is Not A Gateway)
  • Jon Stone & Kirsty Irving (Sidekick Books/Fuselit)
  • Dan Thompson (Empty Shops Network)

Hosted by Travis Elborough

Travis Elborough is the author of The Bus We Loved: London’s Affair With the Routemaster, The Long-Player Goodbye: The Album From vinyl To iPod And Back Again and Wish You Were Here – England on Sea. He reviews for The Guardian, and has contributed to New StatesmanThe Sunday TimesZembla and The Oldie.

You can buy tickets here



One Response to “What will the library of the future look like?”

  1. Susanna Speier Says:

    April 4th, 2011 at 7:19 am

    So wish I could attend this but, sadly, am on the other side of the pond. Would, however, like to mention that I was really touched by the fact that pneumonic tubes were not a casualty of the New York Public Library’s last major renovation. While I don’t for certain what prompted them to keep this analog feature I personally would have mourned the loss of the sound the slip of paper makes when whooshed into to bowels of the stacks to reemerge about 20 minutes later as a book. I don’t consider myself a luddite but there is a certain analog aesthetic evoked by the human touch that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. Just this morning I blogged about a complete history of science fiction anthology — interpreted as an infograph. It is lopsided and lacks references to some of the real essentials: Dr. Who and The Twilight Zone are missing. Neither James Hilton nor Neil Gaiman made it. What’s brilliant about it is that this is a bibliography that couldn’t have happened, had the info been assembled by a scholarly team or even by crowdsourcing. As libraries become more comprehensive, I believe they will reach out for more bibliographical data visualizations. Archives will delve deep into variables and honor the human touch.


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