Future Library: Art, Ideas and Time

A photograph of the writer Elif Shafak at Future Library Handover Day, pictured outside in a forest

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Artist Katie Paterson discusses her remarkable 100-year international art project Future Library with author Elif Shafak, philosopher Roman Krznaric and chair Rosie Goldsmith

Future Library is a public artwork by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, which will unfold over the next 100 years in the city of Oslo, Norway. A forest has been planted which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in 100 years’ time. Between now and then, one writer every year is contributing a text, with the writings held in trust, unread and unpublished, until the year 2114. The manuscripts will be presented in a specially designed room in the new public library, Oslo. Writers to date include Margaret Atwood (2014), David Mitchell (2015), Sjón (2016), Elif Shafak (2017), and Han Kang (2018). 

Future Library is commissioned and supported by Bjørvika Utvikling.

Katie Paterson is widely regarded as one of the leading artists of her generation. Collaborating with scientists and researchers across the world, her projects consider our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. Her artworks make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. She has exhibited internationally.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 17 books. Shafak’s breakthrough came in 2006 when The Bastard of Istanbul was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Women’s Fiction; seven years later Honour was shortlisted for the same award. Her other novels include The Forty Rules of Love and The Architect’s Apprentice, whilst her latest book, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World has been longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019. 

Roman Krznaric is a social philosopher whose books, including Empathy, The Wonderbox and How to Find Fulfilling Work, have been published in more than 20 languages. His next book The Good Ancestor: Long-Term Thinking for a Short-Term World (forthcoming from Ebury, June 2020) argues that the greatest challenge we face is not climate change, or extreme inequality, or terrorism: it is our inability to think long term. The founder of the world's first Empathy Museum and a founding member of The School of Life, Roman's writings have been widely influential amongst political and ecological campaigners, education reformers, social entrepreneurs and designers.

Rosie Goldsmith is the founder and director of the European Literature Network, which she created for everyone who cares about promoting excellent writing from Europe in English. The Riveter magazine of European literature was created by Rosie in 2017, preceded by the monthly online Riveting Reviews.


Name: Future Library: Art, Ideas and Time
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546