Without us even realizing it, information is being stockpiled at a dazzling speed all around us. The need for information is taken for granted, much like the breathing of air.
But the term “information-oriented society” already sounds hackneyed, and there is now a growing tendency to regard commentaries on the value of information as virtually empty.
Books, the standard-bearers of information in modern society up to now, will soon be spoken of in the past tense. They are produced by applying the techniques of printing to letters and words using paper, and as such, can be regarded as a symbol of the conventional mass production of information. information in the form of books has continued to increase so randomly and excessively that libraries storing them have become mere warehouses full of books. There is an extreme view that ultimately a few shelves-full of floppy disks and CD-ROM disks will he sufficient to store all the information found in these libraries. Until now, libraries have made use of these tools called books to provide the general public with information which can be picked up and felt with our hands, information that can be owned, and information that can age and mature. But now the significance of such types of information appears almost forgotten.
Modern libraries got their start in the l7th century when patrons of science and the arts in Europe opened their private studies to the public. They were then akin to salons, symbolizing accumulated wealth in some places. As people's sense of values shifted with the passage of time, libraries became specialized, lost their homey atmosphere and became essentially storehouses. Today they are crowded with chairs and desks occupied by highschoo1 “warriors” cramming for university entrance examinations.
The time has come to free libraries that have so long been sealed off as places where information and knowledge gather dust. And indeed, there is already one library which tries to reflect the true, restless nature of man by awakening the books from their sleep. When seen from above, it looks like a crystal of show, with a hall in the center, from which, sticking out in 10 directions, are wings that suggest the potential for increasing knowledge. Encircling them is a corridor 3.5 meters wide and 400 meters long where learning through books takes place. The oval-shaped corridor, big enough to nicely fill St. Peter's Square in Rome, traces the genealogy of library construction, the circle symbolizing knowledge. In Bologna, the town with the oldest university in the world, the corridor was once regarded as a kind of mobile classroom where the ancients used to ponder and learn while getting from one place to another.
The interconnected scenes of people enjoying books in natural surroundings where the distance between reader and book is reduced, people taking a stroll with a book under their arm, and people discussing with books in front of them create a lively intellectual landscape. My heart beats with excitement in anticipation of the long-awaited ideal library.
Text by Hiroshi Innami 1994/4