There’s no telling what libraries will look like a century from now…or if they’ll even exist. Nevertheless, a unique project currently underway in Norway is ensuring that they’ll have a least a few new books on their shelves.
The project is called the Future Library and it was created by the Berlin-based artist Katie Paterson. Beginning in 2014, its organizers will request an unpublished work from a famous writer every year for the next 100 years. Then, in 2114, they’ll all be published using paper harvested from a forest that was planted earlier this year. Between now and then, the manuscripts will be stored in a specially designed room in Oslo’s New Public Deichmanske Library.
Paterson came up with the idea, which is one part publishing house, one part library, and one part time capsule, several years ago while “daydreaming about tree rings” and contemplating the future of print media.
Margaret Atwood, the acclaimed writer of The Handmaid’s Tale, was the first author to receive an invite from the Future Library. She contributed a book but future entrants may wind up submitting everything from screenplays to poems. “I am very honored, and also happy to be part of this endeavor,” Atwood told the press “This project, at least, believes the human race will still be around in a hundred years!” Here’s a video featuring her further thoughts on the project.
There’s also the question of whether or not humans, if they’re still around, will have the time, or inclination, to read words printed on paper, let alone anything written all the way back in the early 21st century. Will anyone in the year 2114 want to read Atwood’s book? Only time will tell.