The Future Norwegian Library

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Deichmanske Bibliotek
Deichmanske Bibliotek

I am a self-confessed book worm. Always have been. In fact, as a child I had a bigger library of books than I do now. I want to say that because of this love of books I have always found libraries to be wonderful, magical places but, to be honest, I remember just being overwhelmed by all the books and the people.

And don’t get me started on that Dewey decimal system. I like letters not numbers!

As an adult I discovered the beauty of libraries. The best libraries are community hubs with events and so much to offer. Books are just the start of it. You may be thinking, libraries? Surely they are dying out, what with ebooks, and the wonderful world of google search who goes to the library any more?

Well today I met a few people who would change your mind about that. In fact they are guaranteeing that there will be books to read in the Deichmanske Library in Oslo in 99 years time.

Books will live on

When I first read about framtidsbiblioteket (The Future Library) about a year ago I thought it was pure genius. I thought yeah books won't die out, just like vinyl they will live on! The idea was conjured up by a Scottish visual artist called Katie Paterson.

In short, Katie, together with Bjørvika Utvikling, has planted 1000 trees in the forest around Oslo (about 1.6km from Frognerseteren T-bane station). In 100 years time these trees will be chopped down and to make the paper upon which the manuscripts of 100 authors’ writings will be printed. The authors signing up to this will agree to submit a piece of writing that will remain secret until publishing day in 2114. The first author to sign up to this project was Margaret Atwood last year and today, 26th May, was the day which she handed over her manuscript at the Deichmanske Library in Oslo.

Margaret Atwood

Scribbler Moon

Margaret Atwood is just the first of 100 writers that will be revealed one by one every 26th March here in Oslo. Margaret announced the name of her manuscript today too – ”Scribbler Moon”. So in 2114 Scribbler Moon will be available to read. All writers that sign up to be a part of Future Library will be doing the same. A bit like Fight Club they must follow just three rules:

  • You cannot talk about your writing or what it is about
  • It must consist of words, not pictures
  • It can be of any length as long as it is made up of words (it could be one word, it could be a novel)

There was lots of thought provoking discussion today about books, about the future in 99 years and inevitably about death. A little humorous, a little philosophical but mostly full of hope. To me, one of the most pertinent things said today was about story telling. Margaret Atwood spoke about how story telling is as ancient as humans themselves.

She poignantly said that although the platforms have changed, and will continue to do so, story telling is an art form that will always remain. Oslo is doing its part to make sure there is a place to tell those stories from.

There is always something happening at the Deichmanske Library. After the event I also popped by my favourite part of the library to the 3D printer room where you can print your own – whatever – for free!

Read more about libraries in Norway.

Photo credit: Sean Hayford Oleary

About Eleni Simeou

Eleni Simeou moved to Norway from London in 2014. She has worked in non-profit organisations for most of her career and is now breaking in to Norwegian work life. She is British by birth, Cypriot by culture, has lived in the USA and is now giving Scandinavia a try. She has something to say about most topics but loves a bit of global affairs, outdoorsy living (running plus), yoga and a bit of music and the arts thrown in for good measure.

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