rp:International Space
15:00 - 16:00
Meetup: Libraries as Open Knowledge Spaces

Short thesis

Libraries are hubs for facilitating access to knowledge. In an age of "fake news", however, what is needed is not merely a literacy that allows for distinguishing between what is fake and what is not. Rather, what is required is a public pedagogy that reinvigorates the openness and commons nature of information and knowledge in ways that thwart off their creeping commodification. How can librarians, information specialists, activists facilitate this? Let's discuss it in this meetup!


Initially, the fortunate combination between net neutrality and innovations in digital tech have allowed for the emergence of novel modes of information and knowledge production based on cooperation, collaboration, and openness. Wikipedia, or the GNU project are but a few prominent examples of such web-based information commons.

However, regardless of de facto legal constraints, information commons are increasingly hosted—and therefore controlled—by large corporations who can define the ways in which they are accessed and used. Gradually, media content and other kinds of information are treated not as public service but as products packaged for profit, while audiences are treated as consumers, more so than citizens.

The emergence of “fake news” and "post truth" discourses needs to be seen in the context of both the increasing commodification of information commons, as well as the reality that there is literally “too much information” out there.

Against this backdrop, this meetup seeks to discuss ways in which e.g. librarians, information specialists, activists, and users can facilitate the openness and commons nature of information and knowledge in ways that thwart off the creeping commodification of knowledges. As such, these considerations are not so much novel, as they are a rethinking of the role of libraries in times in which knowledge is increasingly lost in information.

The library of the Goethe Institute in Athens (GIA) tries to emphasize precisely these issues through prefiguration. Reconceived as an experimental commons space and a space of commoning, the GIA library seeks to reinvigorate basic premises of information commons, where knowledge is constructed, accessed, and distributed openly and collectively. As such, it tries to serve the purpose of an open public pedagogy, where literacy in openness can be learnt informally and nurtured together.