Ever since antiquity libraries have served as repositories of knowledge and cultural memory and, as such, belong to the oldest of all building types. Already the biblical verses of Salomo have quoted: Wisdom builds her house and this sentence can be found in many bookhouses as a guiding motto. Since the Renaissance the most important architects have dedicated themselves to this building task, thus giving library buildings an exceptional position within the history of architecture.
In consequence of the changes of forms that information and communication underwent due to digital media, the end of the printed book and the traditional library has often been conjured up. However, in the past two decades more new buildings than ever before have been constructed. Is this a last defiant struggle before libraries vanish in globally accessible virtual data bases? Will libraries become a hybrid mixture of book and data base, a general store of information? Will the conventional collection of books find its specific place in the media society or merely serve as a museum of historical forms of information and repositories? The exhibition of the Architekturmuseum der TU München
offers a review into history and an outlook to the developments of library buildings, thus envisioning their importance and position as well as reflecting any tendencies.
A collection of books only becomes a library by a system that enables a quick reference and makes knowledge accessible. In the first part of the exhibition the regulatory force and classification systems of knowledge will be described by means of ca. 100 publications of the »Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin«. The rare and valuable books and engravings offer a unique panorama of the historical attempts to structure and architecturally solidify knowledge, followed by an exemplary survey on the typology of library buildings. Models, plans and photographs convey excellent, standard works and projects by Michelangelo, Étienne-Louis Boullée, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Gunnar Asplund, Alvar Aalto, Louis Kahn, Hans Scharoun, Dominique Perrault, Max Dudler and many more. The third part of the exhibition shows the attempts to collect the complete knowledge in a universal library and gives a perspective to possible developments. Intermediate areas offer insights into the manifold history of private, lost and fictional libraries, rounded off by a rapid sequence of library scenes from 60 films.