Do you ever think about what the world will look like in 100 years? Will people still live in cities or maybe there will be a migration to rural areas? Will the planet still have enough basic resources for all its inhabitants? Or from a book-related perspective – will people still read physical books? The 2100s sound like a very distant future …
I must confess I thought a lot about the long-term future since the start of the Covid19 pandemic. It certainly put things in a different perspective and, on top of the climate change happenings, it painted a frightful potential future.
So I was intrigued when I first heard about the Future Library – a project that aims to collect one book every year, for 100 years, and then publish all of them in 2114 using the trees from a Norwegian forest. The manuscripts are kept unpublished, stored in the “Silent Room” at Oslo Public Library.
Each year, the Future Library Trust, founded by Katie Paterson, selects a new writer and sends a handwritten letter with a formal request to participate. They choose authors that work with Time, Existence, Nature – things that connect to the project itself.
After the authors accept, they write the book and donate their manuscripts to the Future Library. Very important – they are asked to reveal only the title of the book. The rest is a secret until 2114.
What I like most about this project is that it paints a different picture of the “future library” – closer to nature rather than an enclosed sophisticated building.
When a writer submits the manuscript to the Future Library, there is a short Handover ceremony happening in the Nordmarka forest. There, 1000 trees were planted in 2014 with the purpose of being used 100 years later for printing the books. For the ceremony, the writer makes the trek to the Nordmarka forest and handovers the manuscript during an event that is open to the public.
Margaret Atwood is one of the authors I explored in the recent period – I read “The Heart Goes Last” and “Hag-Seed“, after reading few years ago “The Handmaid’s Tale“. And she is also the first author to join the Future Library, in 2014, with her manuscript called “Scribbler Moon”. It is no wonder that she was the pioneer of the Future Library – her books talk a lot about the future.
Check out below her 4 minute interview about the Future Library, I found it very interesting and pragmatic, with a touch of hope 🙂
What I also like about the Future Library is that it has a higher purpose than our short-lived life on Earth. These writers write books that will certainly not be read during their lifetime, and will be (hopefully) read by people that are not born yet – most probably our grandchildren will get to read the Future Library novels. This is an intriguing, perhaps scary and fascinating perspective from my point of view.
From another point of view, I think that the fear of missing out also plays a role here – my soul saddened at the idea that I will not get to read the Future Library. It is the kind of project that reminds you of the short period you spend on Earth and that we have a limited opportunity to make the most out of it.
What do you think about the Future Library? I am really curious to hear your thoughts about it!
‘Till next time … happy reading!
PS: If you want to explore more this topic, check out their website – https://www.futurelibrary.no/ – it is an interesting online experience 🙂 And for those who prefer the video format – here is a 30 minutes video about the Future Library.