Reimagining the Library of the Future

Public Buildings and Civic Space for Tomorrow’s Knowledge Society


The study ‘Reimagining the Library of the Future’ investigates the various models of public buildings and civic space through the lens of the library…


ISBN: 978-1-951541-98-9
Binding: Softbound
Pages: 220pp
Publication Date: July 2022
Size: 7” x 9” Portrait
World Rights: Available


“Richly illustrated with relevant examples, this reference book will be useful for practitioners, students, bibliophiles, librarians, and everybody who has an interest in the future of libraries.”

Additional information

Weight 2 lbs



Soft Bound



Publication date

July 2022


7" x 9" Portrait

World rights

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The study ‘Reimagining the Library of the Future’ investigates the various models of public buildings and civic space through the lens of the library. It takes a critical look at the history, present, and future transformation of this significant building typology that has recently emerged as a redefined community place, social condenser, and urban incubator for knowledge generation, storage, and sharing. In particular, the library has evolved as a vibrant and vital member of community development and as a basis for outreach efforts.

This book presents 40 recent public and academic libraries from around the world, with over 200 images. As the survey of precedents shows, the historical cases have informed the design of the recent libraries and the continuous development of the building type over time. Well-designed libraries are now in abundance, and the wider view of this study includes mediatheques and learning centers. The selection of contemporary projects focuses on urban libraries in Europe (Germany, Italy, Austria, Netherlands), the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, and China.


Dr. Steffen Lehmann, AA Dipl., Assoc. AIA, is a full professor of architecture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is founder and principal of the design studio si architecture + urban design and has an extensive research and professional background. He has been, for twenty years, a chair professor holding senior roles at universities in the US, UK, and Australia. The book features a foreword by Kelvin Watson and a preface by Michelle Delk.


The Next-Generation Public Library. Adapted from: Reimagining the Library of the Future 

Reimaging the Library of the Future. From Social Condenser and Community Hub to Regenerative Design

Vladimir Belogolovsky talks to architect Steffen Lehmann about his new book Reimagining the Library of the Future, an in-depth anthology of the finest libraries.


Besides the pivotal question on reimagining the library of the future, the author discusses the critical
topic related to public space in contemporary cities. The consolidated trend to privatize significant
parts of the public space has restricted interaction, free use and expression. The libraries thus possess
the opportunity to become the catalyst of several new public activities due to their renewed spatial
programme, their crucial urban role and changing societal expectations. Therefore, through the lens of
the library, a new idea of public space emerges, and this is where the book makes fascinating
discoveries and contributes to the debate.
— Dario Pedrabissi, Architect and Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, and
Milan, Italy

As someone on the forefront of contemporary urban societal and spatial transformations, Steffen
Lehmann does it again: his newest study brings a brilliant discourse on the libraries of the future,
reimagined places creating a lasting civic value and destination in the new digital society framework.
These open-society, genderless and inclusive agora spaces are beautiful works of architecture that
resonate with people looking for a new grounding for culture, publicness and social capital. This book
is a must for all urbanists and architects as libraries are maybe our last outposts of the enduring
repository of history, culture, and meaning. The next generation of libraries in the network society will
and are creating a renewed mission well beyond the storage of knowledge. Read it!
— Professor Tigran Haas, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Center for the Future of
Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

I applaud this book’s deep dive analysis into the library of the future and, frankly, the timing of this
highly relevant book publication could not be better. The 2020 Census projects a demographic sea
of change in the US, so as our democracy becomes more diverse, our buildings are ideally poised to
become community service delivery centers. And once again, we will be called upon to reinvent our
role as the great equalisers of society.
— Kelvin Watson, Executive Director, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Nevada, US

Beyond a reservoir of information in the age of disinformation, Steffen Lehmann’s timely book considers
the library as a civic space for the production and dissemination of public knowledge. The prescient
study of this classical building type that has been missing has finally been written! Reimagining the
Library of the Future presents numerus examples of different approaches to the design of libraries as
public space. It reminds us why, despite the gradual transformation of inscriptions from ink on paper to
bits per pixel, the library, with its extended media infrastructure, still occupies a visible and necessary
space within our cities and societies.
— Professor Iman Ansari, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State
University, Columbus, US

Now that digital technologies have changed the way books can be stored and accessed, it is important
to remember that the media also triggers our desire. They tell us not only where to buy, but also
where to meet and where to kiss. They can shape communities. Therefore, this book is an important
and timely reminder that libraries are also important as public places to meet and share the
pleasure of reading and knowledge.
— Professor Bart Lootsma, Ph.D., Professor for Architectural Theory, University of Innsbruck, Austria

It is always a very particular pleasure and challenge for any architect to design a library. Similar to
the museum, art gallery or concert hall, libraries express more than other typologies their public
character. Steffen Lehmann’s new book makes a significant contribution to a better understanding
of this important building type and to the architectural discourse at large, by presenting and
contributing a relevant selection of projects in plans and sections. I share the opinion that architectural
quality is still decided by the plan and section of a building.
— Professor Igor Peraza, Ph.D., Founding Partner, si_architecture + urban design, Dubai, UAE, and
Barcelona, Spain; Professor of Practice, American University of Sharjah, UAE

The library, as a public building and a civic space, deserves to be in a state of constant experimentation
and evolution as our circumstances and needs change. Filled with a wide range of excellent case studies,
this eloquent book not only showcases libraries of the past and present but also addresses the critical
question, “What can a library be?” We need public libraries more than ever as places for gathering
and exchanging the knowledge that is the bedrock of our society as well as places for social interaction
for communities and the empowering exchange of ideas. This magisterial book brings much-needed
attention back to the critical, civic and communal role of libraries in our cities and societies.
— Professor Aseem Inam, Ph.D., Chair in Urban Design and Founding Director, TRULAB: Laboratory for Designing Urban Transformation, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Strong in analysis and critical exploration, Steffen Lehmann’s book Reimagining the Library of the Future
is a well-overdue contribution to understanding the transforming typology of the library. The notion of
the library is viewed not just as a conduit for knowledge sharing and creation, but as a medium for
coalescing public interest and understanding the evolution and role of civic spaces. In the twenty-first
century, the concept and form of the library as a significant public space is undergoing greater
transformation and reshaping than ever. In this context, the author explores in depth major social
questions on the role and utility of the library of the future including issues of inclusiveness, equity and
multi-functionality as attached to changing notions of public, private and commercialisation. This timely
interdisciplinary book by an acclaimed academic is essential reading for scholars and students keen
to deepen their understanding of the history and theory of architecture, design and planning of the city
through the changing lens of the typology of the library.
— Professor Paul Jones, Ph.D., former Programme Director MURP, the University of Sydney, Australia;
Global Studio Leader on Cities of the Global South, Institute of Technology Bandung, Indonesia

Additional Info

ISBN: 978-1-951541-98-9
Binding: Softbound
Size:7” x 9” Portrait
Extent: 220pp
World Rights: Available

Image 1
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Reimagining the Library of the Future

“Richly illustrated with relevant examples, this reference book will be useful for practitioners, students, bibliophiles, librarians, and everybody who has an interest in the future of libraries.”

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© 2023 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions.
All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

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