The memory of the city as a resource for the future

“Especially in times when science and its methods are subject to systematic attacks, a new self/understanding and self-awareness of libraries as knowledge institutions is needed.

It is no longer just a matter of continuing to secure and make available Vienna’s cultural heritage reliably, commercially independently and increasingly digitally. In addition, in the midst of digital transformations, it is important to remain a democratic place of knowledge exchange, accessible to all, where research and society come together to question the memory of the city – as the Wienbibliothek has often been called – but also to discuss it critically and, above all, to help shape it.

Lines of tradition around referencable knowledge connect the universal library of Alexandria with the vast enlightenment projects of the Encyclopédie to today’s Wikipedia. Libraries thus have centuries of experience as instances for the creation of secure knowledge in society, which is currently becoming newly significant in the midst of fake news and digital manipulation. Many see it as their duty to help shape the now not-so-new digital knowledge space and, in any case, to get involved in enlightening networks of knowledge, to make society more democratic and inclusive again by securing, making available and communicating science.”

Anita Eichinger is Director and Katharina Prager Head of Research and Participation at the Wienbibliothek