Libraries, one of our key social institutions, are undergoing a quiet revolution. Once solely the domain of the analogue, i.e. printed book, they must now archive the digital word as well. Yet their plurality of purpose remains; they must both protect & preserve the information and knowledge that they contain whilst simultaneously enabling access to the very same.
These photographs of the British Library, one of the world’s largest libraries, look at this plurality through the infrastructure of the institution. The precisely ordered fire suppression, air conditioning and data storage systems that perform the primary role of protecting the collections serve not only as metaphor for the precisely ordered classification systems and catalogues that enable those collections to be discovered and accessed, but also for the challenges posed by technology.