The famed Library at Alexandria was located in Egypt - but an expression of Greek culture. A student of Aristotle created the library and it was designed in the style of Aristotle’s Lyceum and placed adjacent to a Greek temple. Most of its collection came from trips to the book fairs of Rhodes and Athens. So perhaps it is no accident that we’re working in Greece to launch one of the world’s most exciting projects to reinvent the library for the digital age.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is investing EUR560 million to build a Cultural Center which will host the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. As part of the project, the Foundation is also funding “Future Library”, an effort that aims to transform public libraries into media labs and hubs of creativity, innovation and learning, attracting many groups who now spend little time there - entrepreneurs, students, unemployed, and immigrants. So far, nine libraries are participating from all over Greece - including the municipal libraries of Kozani, Trikala, Corinth, Keratsini-Drapetsona, Heliopolis, Chania, Drama,Levadia, and Nafpaktos.

Google is participating, providing design know-how to the architects hired by Future Library to help create innovative and creative spaces. With the help of the Google real estate team, we will review the architect submissions, provide technical comment on all proposals and assist the Foundation in executing the exciting project. In addition, we are holding workshops for participating librarians, helping them acquire skills on effective use of Google tools and including Google search, Google+, YouTube and Docs.

Some might have imagined that the Internet would make libraries superfluous or irrelevant. But the reality looks like quite the opposite - the Internet can help libraries become a center for new digital learning and a point of reference for local communities.