Case report

The public library is the most widely used cultural institution, a house for the art form literature, and deeply rooted in democratic enlightenment culture. However recent digitization trends are challenging the traditional functioning of the library such as e.g.

  • the democratisation, amateurization and increasingly commodification/corporatisation of knowledge production, dissemination and sharing (e.g. Wikipedia, Google, the increasing marketization of universities)
  • new commercial models for online distribution of cultural content (e.g. Spotify, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon)
  • new formats and media (e.g. ebooks, tablets, smartphones, print on demand, electronic literature)
  • and new ways of writing, reading, publishing and (co-)producing (open access, open data vs controlled consumption)

However, the challenges come together with some opportunities as well for the library to be a hub in a future democratic and open, smart city. In this way, the library through a transformation has unique possibilities for remaining a space for seeking, sharing and producing knowledge and for being a space for an open, critical democratic public where the users are seen and see each other as resources.

In this case PIT researchers aim to explore the future library through different experiments, analyses and collaborations with libraries (e.g. with Roskilde and Aarhus Libraries in, Litteraturen finder sted ( and the development of Aarhus’ new library Urban Media Space/Dokk1),  cultural institutions, museums and producers (Godsbanen, Aarhus Kunsthal, Ubermorgen, Edition Afterhand), citizen services and municipal organisations connected through the Smart Aarhus initiative.

Research questions:

  1. How can we create platforms for co-production with open data in an open world?
  2. How are forms of co-production challenging the library/urban media space as institution? How can the urban media space be a frame for exchange of culture and knowledge between works and networks?

The case is related to and gather participants from all themes of PIT with case leaders from Participatory Publics and Artistic Strategies of Participatory Culture. Since the starting of PIT, we have had activities along four lines:

  • Within the on-going project collaboration “Litteraturen finder sted” a demonstrator “Ink” has been produced and presented at Roskilde Festival and Roskilde Library. In the near future, it will be presented at the conference “Litteraturen finder sted (Godsbanen, Aarhus, 20 March) and exhibited at Aarhus libraries.
  • Within the AU-ideas project, Disruptive Innovation, which is part of PIT, experiments with research publication and dissemination continues with the journal “Researching BWPWAP” (in collaboration with Transmediale and Leuphana University), the development of the APRJA platform and the collaboration with the artist group Ubermorgen and Arnolfini Gallery around the Kindle Forkbomb project.
  • Related to the Smart Aarhus initiative we have been responsible for setting up the Media Architecture Biennale in Aarhus (November 2012) including installations such as the Urban Bug Report with displays on Aarhus City Hall.
  • Related to the Folkelab project, we have participated in and hosted a number of meetings and workshops developing future projects.

Plans for 2013: Developing demonstrators and research in two strands:

  1. Lenders as Ressources/ Folks grid: How do we create and support an open, social space for knowledge sharing?
  2. Recursive Public(a(ɔ)tions) Lab: How do we make the library as co-creative space for a recursive public / participatory innovation?