The future library is a project started in Norway which won’t reach fruition for one hundred years. It starts with a plot of a hundred trees planted in 2014 which, once they’ve grown, will become paper for a series of a hundred books. A manuscript from one of the most influential writers is chosen once a year to be sealed and left unread until the year 2114.
This idea of slowing down the insemination of information to match the growth of the trees used to distribute them puts into question the modern ideals of mass acceleration and asks us to consider consumption and creation on a wider scale. The books written for this library will not be read in the lifetimes of authors, many of the people currently following the progress of the project or even the original creators of the project. In a time where the future of books, trees and civilized society are not guaranteed, this website and a hundred saplings in Norway has people considering a brighter future even though they might not be able to see it themselves.
While this library is considered the most secretive library, most of that title is earned because it simply doesn’t exist yet. The Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum might possibly be the most secretive library which currently exists. Being the private archives of the Vatican, the secrecy surrounding them is greatly exaggerated by conspiracy theorists but not entirely unfounded. Much of the archives are private, aren’t properly indexed and are technically only fully available to the pope, there are reading rooms available to visiting scholars and guided tours for visitors. The process for accessing the archives are rather difficult to navigate. Only accredited researchers are allowed to read anything from the archives and even they are only three articles which they must read under supervision and a time limit. The archives are said to contain over 75,000 codices from over twelves centuries.
Though some libraries are held secret by those who are either concerned by conservation or are waiting until the right moment, others are simply lost and rediscovered. The Dunhuang library on the edge of the gobi desert had been sitting in a cave for possibly over 900 years when it was discovered in the 1900’s. It holds paintings and manuscripts from over seventeen languages, many of which are now rare or entirely lost. Currently, the British museum is executing the International Dunhuang Project to digitally archive the entire collection, making the ancient scripts available to scholars and linguists worldwide.
4/10/2019 07:27:17 pm
This post is so fascinating! I love libraries and old books and mysterious books. It's interesting how you focused on specifically secret libraries. I fee like the secrecy adds that much more intrigue. I was so surprised to learn about the strictness of the Vatican archives in particular, and your mention of the 100-year library project made me want to look into it further!
4/10/2019 10:41:03 pm
This project sounds beyond amazing. It's fascinating that there are people working towards a library that won't be available until a 100 years from now. It makes me jealous that I won't get to see it, but I hope that in 100 years from now people still appreciate books because I would hate for this project to die out. Now I want to know who is currently running this project and how they plan to keep it ongoing for 100 years!
4/11/2019 06:30:38 pm
Lately I’ve been considering what making work for the future could look like, or work that ushers in a brighter future. It is a courageous act to start a project with a completion date beyond the lifetime of the instigators. This inspires me to continue to dream up ideas that are bigger than my own short lifespan. Thank you for sharing!
4/11/2019 09:43:04 pm
This is such an interesting concept! I think that this will encourage people to recognize the value of resources and appreciate the access to texts that we have already. It forces people to slow down and recogize that although paper is technically disposable it is a valuable resource that takes time to grow.
4/11/2019 11:15:18 pm
This is such an interesting topic, I find myself really curious as to who choses the writers, and what that's based off of. I'm also curious as to how the organization that runs it will be passed down, and how they'll release the books in 2114. I have thought a lot about my rate of consumption. I've thought about it most when I realized how many podcasts I've listened to in comparison to how long it took to make each one.
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