Unlibrary launches in Crouch End

Unique project aims to unite like minds in the 21st century

PIONEERING project which allows you to discuss the future of the book, take part in social networking, meet like minded people, learn from others, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee and a chat as you work away has been launched at Hornsey library.

The Unlibrary is now operating from a room on the first floor of the Crouch End library and available for anyone in the community to use.

Run by the “unlibrarians” Chris Meade and Anke Holst, the unlibrary was first envisaged by the council as a workspace for sole traders to come to use the library facilities, but also be able to talk on their phones, network and have a coffee.

As well as all this, the room has now taken on a life of its own as a place where people can safely meet and discuss issues around the web and the arts and the role of the library.

There could still be more to come, says Ms Holst, as the project develops and finds its own place and purpose. I don’t want to define it too much – I want it to become what the local community needs,” she said.

“The unique thing about this, which I have not seen elsewhere, is that it brings the creative together with the people who are interested in the future of where we are taking this communication thing and how we share what’s happening and how we keep ourselves human with all this technology.”

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While Ms Holst’s background is in social media, Mr Meade’s focus is on the future of the book and the library in the digital age and it seems the unlibrary is a place where all those interests meet.

With the web taking over many of the functions the library used to cater for – such as finding free or cheap books, your local newspaper or information and references – the unlibrary explores what future uses the buildings can have alongside the internet.

Mr Meade said: “The web is a good way of doing things, but it’s nice to have a safe place to meet.

“We really do want to meet each other and we all have the library and know it’s an open, intellectual space where we have the right to be and do what we like and think what we like.

“But it’s not actually that easy to meet people in a library, even though you are sat in a place where you must have something in common, but here you can’t click on them, or open their profile.”

At the unlibrary though, you can almost literally click on someone’s profile – a wall of cubby holes is adorned by people’s mark-pen scrawled “profiles” containing their names, contact details, interests and occupations – some even put their artwork in their section.

The idea is people can use this safe space as a way to do things they regularly do on the internet – for instance you could find a local motorbike enthusiast on the wall, maybe because you’re writing a book and want to research something, or maybe just because you need the number of a reliable local mechanic.

Every week between 11am and noon on Tuesday people can meet the unlibrarians and there will be more events in the future. For instance, on Tuesday a day of debate and workshops took place with literary leaders such as local author Andrea Levy.

The future for the unlibrary is far from set in stone and all in the community are welcome to contribute to its future

For more information pop into a Tuesday morning session, go to www.unlibrary.posterous.com or follow @theunlibrary on twitter.