A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Opening in 100 Years: The Future Library

by on July 15, 2015

The Future Library isn’t a library yet, but when it opens in 2114 it will contain written works from great authors of today – and many authors not even born yet.  This is a 100-year project, spearheaded by Katie Paterson a Scottish conceptual artist. Every year between 2015 and 2114, one author will contribute a new work that will not be seen by anyone else until the library opens. Until then, the manuscripts will be stored in a room in the New Deichmanske Public Library in Bjørvika, Oslo, Norway. The titles and authors will be on display, but the books themselves will be held in trust until they are published at the end of the project.

To prepare for the publication of these books, 1000 trees have been planted in a forest outside of Oslo for the sole purpose of providing paper to print the books. As noted on the Future Library website, “Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.”

One author we know will be in this library is Margaret Atwood, who was chosen to be the first author to provide a manuscript for the project. She presented her manuscript to the library on May 26th in a ceremony that included a walk through the Future Library Forest and a conversation with artist Katie Paterson, who created the Future Library concept. Atwood is a natural choice for inclusion in the Future Library as so much of her writing deals with what will happen in the future. “In the case of the Future Library, I am sending a manuscript into time. Will any human beings be waiting there to receive it? Will there be a ‘Norway’? Will there be a ‘forest’? Will there be a ‘library’?” wrote Atwood in an essay for the project. Another futurist author, David Mitchell, was chosen shortly after Atwood’s ceremony to write the second work for the Future Library. His manuscript will be added in 2016.

For $1000, collectors can purchase a printed certificate that functions as a piece of art until the Future Library opens, at which point the certificate entitles the owner to a complete set of the 100 works in the library

Paterson’s other artworks have involved broadcasting the sounds of a melting glacier live to a visitor on a mobile phone, mapping all the dead stars, compiling a slide archive of the history of darkness across the ages, custom-making a light bulb to simulate the experience of moonlight, burying a nanosized grain of sand deep within the Sahara desert, and sending a re-cast meteorite back into space.


Future Library – Framtidsbiblioteket – Katie Paterson. Accessed June 9, 2015. http://www.futurelibrary.no/.

“KATIE PATERSON: Future Library Certificate.” James Cohan Gallery. Accessed June 9, 2015. http://www.jamescohan.com/editions/2014-09-05_katie-paterson-future-library-certificate.

“Margaret Atwood 2014.” Accessed June 9, 2015. http://www.futurelibrary.no/Future_Library_Katie_Paterson_Guide_2015.pdf.

Tags: , , , , ,