Public libraries and “Making.”: Experiences in the Netherlands

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The public library holds a key position in the present geography of the urban public realm, as it emphasizes the centrality of self-directed culture in contemporary society by mirroring the processes of individual empowerment underpinned by technological changes. It transforms the public space in a place of collective action and individual participation, contributing to forming the urban commons in the contemporary splintered society. At present, visiting a library is an urban public act of collective participation / inclusion. The crucial condition for this is the paradigmatic transition from a passive knowledge-consumption model to an active knowledge-production model—by which libraries increasingly position “making” at the intersection of public culture and public realm, bringing performative spaces and creative
opportunities within the public sphere of all citizens. How do library buildings accommodate these public relationships, and in how far are they successful in doing it? The article proposes a theoretical underpinning framework for the development of the public library in the context of the contemporary socio-cultural conditions in order to position recent experiences in the Netherlands. The aim is to enlighten the current relationships between urban commons, making culture, and the architecture of the public library with an eye on future developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes (CPCL)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • public library
  • makerspace
  • hybrid building
  • cultural infrastructure
  • public interiors
  • third place


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