The three revolutions to the digital library

Luis Fernández-Galiano lists the three major revolutions that have taken place in the field of books:
"The first revolution of writing, almost two millennia ago, replaced the roll by the codex (...), the second revolution, just over half a millennium, replaced the manuscript for the press (...), the third, which we happen to witness, has made the transition from physical form to digital information (...) "

Then, however, warns that this ultimate revolution is of a nature quite different from the previous two, and has expanded his horizons when he says "once you notice that the last metamorphosis is different in nature to the above, because the passthe material universe from the scrolls, codices, or books to the virtual world of networks spatial needs of conventional libraries fade away". In fact, we are witnessing an exciting and historic moment, because not only are we moving toward digital information, but this also involves rethinking and redefining the iconic building and more representative of the information, the library. If until now the changes in books and printed documents had not affected the building, we are currently engaged in a double revolution, which includes the building, and this makes it especially momentous. The foundations of what we thought immutable and enduring begin to falter, and depends only on us, the librarians, together with the architects we lead this paradigm shift.

Fernández-Galiano immediately draws a negative hypothesis on library buildings, "making unnecessary the specific buildings and converting existing architectures libraries expendable fossil was constructed in an outmoded information permanently. Is that your destiny?", he asks. But immediately points to a completely positive future scenario in which large institutions and small-scale libraries survive, giving specific responses to the demands of his audience, and adapt their spaces to new uses that society and the public ask to libraries. He concludes "At the end, human beings like us the game, and neither can substitute telework interactive vitality of the office, or reading can replace screens scattered informal contact research centers, places of education or libraries (...) the library will not distant material our library obsolete". And we move into a state of cohabitation, presence and shared equally important: a digital library of easily accessible, ubiquitous, open permanently, and a physical library building will become a social par excellence, a meeting place for citizens. Librarians certainly we are making efforts to move in this direction, driving the digitization and democratic and open access to digital information, and rethinking our buildings, transforming them to accommodate some uses that are already present.


  • Image [Accessed: May 13, 2011]

  • Luis Fernández-Galiano. “La biblioteca digital”. In: Arquitectura Viva, n. 135 (2010), p. 3

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