I am very happy to be invited to the Conference „Techno-Topologies“ in Darmstadt (Germany), in March 2011. I’ll present selected results of my phd project „Spaces of Knowledge – Operationalisation of Knowledge in University Libraries”.

The project focuses on the interaction of space/architecture and social practice in university libraries. Libraries are made for storage, development and transformation of knowledge. They are on the one hand existing architectural spaces; on the other hand are the genesis and the transfer of knowledge embedded in social processes of learning and teaching. The central question is: In which way is knowledge operationalised in libraries, by social practice and architecture? To answer this, a comparative case study has been designed and selected university libraries have been analysed. The libraries of Konstanz and Oxford are in the major focus of the case study.
In my presentation I’ll show that information architecture, a concept better known in the field of web design, is an important function in libraries. The results of the project illustrate the spatial challenge of library users and connect this with the technical support for orientation and navigation within the library spaces. Navigation and orientation will be traced both on the macroscopic and the microscopic level. The macroscopic level relates to the whole building, the microscopic level relates to each single shelve and book.
Library architecture can work as a medium of orientation. But it can also be like a labyrinth and hinder users in their orientation and navigation. It, too, works as an access denier: If one hasn’t the cultural capital (Bourdieu) and therefore the experience how to use a library, he/she will get lost within the rooms, shelves and books. The collected data material (interviews, participant observations, mental maps and photo documentation) illustrates that materiality and technology not only make a contribution to the perception and experience of space, but also have effects on the processes of knowledge production. Material and social closing mechanisms can configurate progresses of (corporate) identity and affect the behaviour towards libraries and their contents.

More information concerning the conference is provided here.

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