Cultivating a Future for Books

by Samantha Albala

Scottish artist Katie Paterson is growing books starting with 1,000 saplings, as a part of a 100-year book-art project called “Future Library.” A piece of land in Oslo, Norway is being cleared out for the future-book trees, along with a space for the future manuscripts. Here is the catch though, every year, for the next 100 years, a new author will be chosen to contribute to this library, but these works cannot be read until 2114! So…basically, it may be hard for any of us to be alive when the works from this project become available. Unless some equally cool artist finds a way to preserve our bodies in the forest amongst the future-book trees. That would be cool. Scientists and artists unite, please!

Margret Atwood is the first writer chosen for this project, and as much as we all want to ask her what she is writing about, she cannot and will not tell us. The group, called the Future Library Trust, will choose a new writer every year over the next 100 years, and will rotate it’s members every 10 years until the project is complete. The Trust includes publishers, editors, and other paper-book lovers! We can only hope and plead that the future members are just as passionate about print books as those of this generation who still boycott Kindles and eBooks!

Thanks to the city of Oslo, the company Bjorvika Utvikling, Norwegian Forestry, many future visitors, and others, this project should keep going strong well beyond our lifespans. The physical library for this project is in progress now, and will open in 2018. While you can visit the forest and library before the books are printed, when you go all you will see are authors’ names and the titles of their work made from wood from the previous forest.

Although I have to say I am quite saddened that I will never read the exclusive Atwood story or future generation’s pieces, I am satisfied that there will be print books for many years to come. 

To learn more about this project you can go to or the Future Library Website. 


Photo c/o The Guardian,, and Situations.

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