June 29, 2007

Green Libraries

Monika Antonelli is developing what I think is an important new conceptual direction for libraries, on the basis of ideas from the permaculture movement. She has just started a website, Greenlibraries.org, still mostly undeveloped, which will be a resource for support and documentation for making libraries more ecologically sustainable. Making libraries more sustainable is the basic first step in Monika’s view of things, but farther down the road, as energy issues begin to affect the economy more heavily and change the way that people live, local libraries may emerge as having a central role in the activity of communities.

Technological visionaries in librarianship focus on bringing the skills of librarianship into networked digital services that bypass local libraries. Local libraries are often not a part of the vision of these futurists. A vision of the future informed by ecological realities is different, and is easier to ignore than to face up to because of the drastic changes that these realities require for true sustainability. It is not clear whether a networked world will be such a given when we reach the limits of our natural resources. Permaculture thinking provides an alternative vision of the future of libraries as local institutions. I look forward to Monika’s work on this area, which I think will be very important.

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