3B - Books, Buildings, Bytes

3B - Books, Buildings, Bytes


Libraries of the future and the future of libraries

International Conference 15-16 May 2019, Genoa

Aula Magna del Rettorato, via Balbi 5

UniGe venue

Poetry, science, political and religious visions have been printed in books which are kept in buildings that we call libraries. Libraries are places where we go to find mental time, silence, information and inspiration, surrounded by the most convincing evidence of human intellectual activity: books of all possible kinds and people that read them. Roughly thirty years ago the tangible nature of a paper page has been paired with the less tangible concept of bit, but the home of bytes is yet to be built. Arguably, it is the world, where no walls need to be erected to protect them from fire because they do not burn. We humans, however, do need spaces to define our activities, the history of civilization can be told by buildings.

New needs and ancient feelings are emerging in the era of electronic files, and our future understanding of information, the very way in which we produce, exchange and use intelligence is intertwined with the fate of books. What we think and what we do depend on how we learn and how we meet. Silence is an enduring value in the creation of thought, the texture of perception, the canvas of all mental paintings.

A project and a meeting

Through history, Genova has always been a place of transition. Its ancient port is a local, national and international passage. In this city, Columbus was born with his revolutionary vision of global connection. The medieval city centre has always been a melting pot of people from every corner of the Mediterranean Sea and is nowadays almost a symbol of merging cultures.

The University of Genova was founded in 1481 and at present it hosts about thirty thousand students from all over the world. Its collection of more than a million books is spread in many different buildings, some of which of high historical value. The challenge of conserving this cultural patrimony has triggered a manifold project that spans from building restoration issues to the creation of learning spaces of the third millennium. The propagation of the wave of thoughts that this project has sparked will be set off in a meeting, to be held in May 2019 in Genova. The conference will be focused both on concrete problems, such as the possible restoration of a frescoed church of the seventeenth century converted into library-like storage in the twentieth century and on the general theme of books, buildings, and bytes.


Babylon with its tower, the myriad languages that sprang out of it, the dream of a united human race, the myths that may be traced back to it have left a thread, a spider web that is daily woven by the constant creation of documents of all possible kinds: texts, images, sounds. The explosive impact of electronic files on the production, conservation, and exchange of intelligence calls for a thorough discussion that goes beyond any predefined boundaries. It is time to sail the waves that the digital world has produced in the stormy sea of knowledge.

UniGe venue

Conference Themes

(i) Books and old buildings

Transforming academic and public library spaces in historical buildings for flexible adaptive reuse for the 21st-century users; opportunities and challenges of the church of “Santi Gerolamo e Francesco Saverio”, via Balbi 3.

(ii) Bytes and new buildings

Which are the types of learning activities and their supporting spaces, how should they be designed? An answer from hundreds of European students to the University of Genova. Which are the basic features that a library system (academic or public) should combine to inform and address new space designs? A question from the University of Genova to the leading world experts.

(iii) New books and bytes

What has the millenarian tradition of books learned from the teenaged culture of electronic files? And what about the converse question?

Scientific Committee

Paolo Comanducci - Rector, Università di Genova (UniGe)
Filippo De Mari - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Lauro Magnani - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Giovanna Franco - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Stefano F. Musso - Università di Genova (UniGe) 
Chiara Palandri - Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
Marcella Rognoni - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Antonella Rovere - Università di Genova (UniGe)


Paolo Comanducci - Rector, Università di Genova (UniGe)
Paolo Bensi - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Elisa Bricco, Micaela Rossi - F@RUM, Università di Genova (UniGe)
Simonetta Buttò - Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle biblioteche italiane e per le informazioni bibliografiche (ICCU)
Filippo De Mari - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Ole Gustavsen - Rector, Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i Oslo (AHO), Oslo
Petra Hauke - Institut für Bibliotheks- und Informations­wissen­schaft (IBI), Berlin
Lauro Magnani - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Golo Maurer - Bibliotheca Hertziana, Roma
Stefano F. Musso - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Werner Oechslin - Emeritus, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich
Carlo Olmo - Emeritus, Politecnico di Torino (POLITO)
Santi Romero Garuz - IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section
Marcella Rognoni - Università di Genova (UniGe)
Vincenzo Trombetta - Università di Salerno (UNISA)

Conference Programme

DAY ONE – MAY 15th, 2019

SESSION 1 - BOOKS, BUILDINGS, BYTES Chair: Filippo De Mari, Università di Genova

8:30-9:30 Registration desk opening

9:30-10:30 Opening ceremony

  • Paolo Comanducci, Rector, Università di Genova
  • Elisabetta Piccioni, Segretario Regionale del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali per la Liguria
  • Francesca Imperiale, Soprintendente Archivistica e Bibliografica della Liguria
  • Vincenzo Tiné, Soprintendente Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per la città metropolitana di Genova e le province di Imperia, La Spezia e Savona
  • Direttore Biblioteca Universitaria, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
  • Rosa Maiello, Francesco Langella, Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB)
  • Filippo De Mari, Università di Genova


  • Simonetta Buttò, Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle Biblioteche Italiane e per le Informazioni Bibliografiche (ICCU), MiBAC
    Fra reti europee e servizi ai cittadini: strategie e modelli innovativi per l’accesso al patrimonio culturale digitale
    Between European networks and services to citizens: innovative strategies and models for access to digital cultural heritage

11:15-11:45 Coffee break


  • Ole Gustavsen, Rector, School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Oslo. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The rise of a building


  • Santi Romero Garuz, Library Buildings and Equipment Section, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Designing new library buildings

13:15-14:30 Lunch

SESSION 2 - BUILDINGS Chair: Chiara Palandri, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera


  • Marcella Rognoni, Filippo De Mari, Università di Genova. University libraries, universal libraries


  • Lauro Magnani, Università di Genova. Architetture, immagini, libri: una storia negli spazi del Collegio gesuitico e della Chiesa dei Santi Gerolamo e Francesco Saverio / Architectures, images, books: a story in the spaces of the 'Collegio dei Gesuiti' and 'Santi Gerolamo e Francesco Saverio' Church


  • Paolo Bensi, Università di Genova. 'Ornamenti condotti con allegria, dignità et ordine straordinario': decorazioni pittoriche delle biblioteche


  • Stefano F. Musso, Università di Genova. The rediscovered past, a future to be built

16:30-17:00 Debate

DAY TWO – MAY 16th, 2019

SESSION 3 - BOOKS Chair: Stefano F. Musso and Marcella Rognoni, Università di Genova

8:30-9:30 Registration desk opening


  • Vincenzo Trombetta, Università di Salerno. Libri, saperi, uomini nella storia e nel futuro delle biblioteche / Books, knowledge, men in the history and in the future of libraries


  • Carlo Olmo, Emeritus, Politecnico di Torino. Il cantiere del libro: metafora e materia / The construction site of the book: metaphor and matter


  • Werner Oechslin, Emeritus, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich. La biblioteca come forma del sapere / The library as a form of knowledge

11:00-11:30 Coffee break


  • Golo Maurer, Bibliotheca Hertziana. New books in old buildings. Are bits the solution?


  • Petra Hauke, Institut für Bildung in der Informationsgesellschaft (IBI). The Second Hand Library Building – O dear or WOW?

12:30-13:00 Debate

13:00-14:30 Lunch

SESSION 4 - BYTES Chair: Filippo De Mari, Università di Genova


  • Elisa Bricco, Micaela Rossi, F@RUM, Università di Genova. Il gruppo di ricerca F@rum: un'esperienza di gestione del patrimonio testuale in Rete/The F@rum research team: an experience of managing textual heritage on the Net

15:00-15:30 Presentation of the students’ Competition 'Future Library' results

  • Giovanna Franco, Università di Genova
  • Cristian Borrello, General Director, Università di Genova
  • Emanuele Magi, Università di Genova
  • Maurizio Canepa, Università di Genova
  • Alessandro Cecchini, Young Architects Competitions

15:30-18:00 ‘Future Library’ Award ceremony and Finalists Panels Exhibition

PDF available in the 'Downloads' section

Conference Venue

Aula Magna del Rettorato
Università di Genova
via Balbi 5, Genova


Università di Genova - Aula Magna del Rettorato
Università di Genova - Aula Magna del Rettorato



Conference Venue location
Conference Venue location



Conference Secretariat

Federica Pompejano, Università di Genova

Website: unige.it/3b
E-mail: 3b@unige.it

UniGe venue

Future Library Competition

Future Library Competition Results

We are very pleased to announce that Future Library Competition results have been published at