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Sarah Strachan 

The library of the future 

Informed by a recent experience of flooding in Venice, The library of the future is a site-specific art installation in the library at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). This work imagines a future where Cambridge is only 1m above sea level and our 'new normal' is being woken by warning sirens and coping with flooding at high tide.


ARU has declared a climate emergency and committed to be climate neutral by 2030, but what does this mean to staff and students at ARU? At a time when global sustainability academics acknowledge that “...the science of global warming has failed spectacularly to emotionally connect with much of society” it is proposed that "the new story of our planetary emergency must highlight our vulnerability to near-term climate shocks...” (Jones & Steffen 2019).

This intervention seeks to disrupt library users, creating a sense of urgency in our response to climate change whilst bringing about a sense of hope from the resilience and adaptability of communities vulnerable to near term climate shocks. Posters advise of each floor’s height above sea level and the relative risk of flooding, whilst books from the library’s collection are re-located to a recycled bath - a novel method of flood proofing used by the Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice.

The work also highlights the role of libraries, around the world, in promoting the achievement of the sustainable development goals including; advocating for the inclusion of access to information, safeguarding of cultural heritage, universal literacy and access to information and communication technologies (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2019).

Sarah Strachan, Fine Art BA, 3rd year

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