New ecosystems in the library of the twenty-first century: a study and proposals for Barcelona's future Gabriel García Márquez Library

Objectives. In this day and age, why should libraries continue to be physical spaces? What features of the traditional library can make our physical trip there worthwhile? This article reports on an ongoing project to redefine the programme of Barcelona's future Gabriel García Márquez Library and reflects upon the need to re-evaluate the role of public libraries in general.

Methodology. The article examines some important examples of processes of research and design which take their inspiration from the methodology of actor network theory and which describe, transform and hybridize local and global situations that can be transferred to library installations and enable library programmes to offer users new features.

Results. The article concludes that the traditional library building must incorporate new ecosystems to bring together the various aspects of a centre, including its physical architecture, environment, collections and activities, users and staff. In our IT-driven era, the tactile, corporeal and atmospheric features of these ecosystems should be combined to sustain the public function of libraries as platforms of knowledge. The physical space of the library of the future can be understood as a kind of concentrated replica of the city community outside its doors and of the homes of the neighbours who are its users, recalling elements of that environment but also creating its own unique character. In this context, physical library holdings should be stores of unique situations and environments that make access to knowledge and the exchange and production of knowledge experiences that cannot be reproduced in virtual centres. In short, the value of the library's physical spaces will go beyond what a simple email message might be able to explain.