Layers of libraries

October 8, 2018

If the city, and by extension architecture, can be seen a logistic machine or set of logistic principles  like Marullo’s summarization of Vitruvius’s De architectura describes:

“From the central crossing of streets and the outer delimitations of walls to the disposition of buildings based on topography and the wind’s direction to the extraction and conveying of water, logistics was indispensable for channeling all the natural forces of a context through an ordered architecture, ensuring a healthy life for its inhabitants and defense in times of hostility.“ [1]

The machine’s goal evidently is to create an environment that shelters the inhabitants from the forces of nature, external threats, health threats and has enough provisions.

The library can also be looked upon as a machine, where different components, or logistics, are devised to make the infrastructure of the library successful; host and mediate collective information to its community. The library as a machine is made out of a network of architectural, social, technological and even ethical components or infrastructures that all integrate.

The primary or initial infrastructure of the library would be the books and archives of a knowledge and information, that are hosted and arranged systematically according to theme, sort, author and alphabet. And their sorting, preserving or discarding of information in an epistemological way.

The library is also a social infrastructure, that distributes and even lends its assets to help the patrons understand the world around us and ourself. A place and infrastructure that is, at least in theory, open to the entire public. The library serves as a community center or even public square, where people meet, interact and take part in shaping their community, all based on the distribution of knowledge and the individual pursuit to better oneself or become informed.

The physical infrastructure or architecture of the library is the place where these informational and social infrastructures intersect and create a layered infrastructure.

Like the role and workings of a city, the infrastructure of the library has changed with time, with new technologies, different cultural, political and even with new economic situations the function of the libraries have changed.  They need, like the cities, to constantly evolve and reform to be able to fulfill their intended service (keep the infrastructure working) and serve the society.



  1. Francesco Marullo, “Logistics Takes Command.”  Log, 35 (2015): 105.  


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