The Legacy of Literature: Future Library

In 100 years, where will we be?  Will the world be an unrecognizable wasteland? Will cars be flying overhead? Will robots be running all facets of industry? Will we walk into bookstores and purchase classic novels, bound in hard covers? Who knows? One thing of which we are certain – it’s time to preserve what we love if there is any hope for its existence in the next 100 years. Scottish artist Katie Paterson has created a project for just this:  ‘Future Library’ is an initiative that is working with The Library of Oslo in Norway to breathe hope into the notion that literature, as we know it, will still be here in 100 years.

In 2014, 1,000 spruce saplings were planted in Norway’s Nordmarka forest.  These trees will be nurtured over the coming century. They will eventually be harvested to bring life to 100 Books, written by 100 of the greatest authors of our time. Future Library is curating one book per year from a selected author; the book will then be put into a time capsule, locked away in the Library of Oslo, never to be read until the year 2114. The authors are submitting their works in good trust, and committing to a project of which, they will never see the end. They are committing to Paterson’s idea of hope: she has hope that there will be readers, writers, and a love of literature living on in the coming decades. The time capsule will also include instructions and a printing press, in case the information is lost over the years.

Margaret Atwood wrote the inaugural book for the project, and has since handed over her manuscript. Scribbler Moon has been locked away in the time capsule, without a single soul having read it first. David Mitchell has followed up with the second book for the project, titled From Me Flows What You Call Time.  Mitchell noted that it was quite liberating to finish a project and have no sense of it’s acceptance in society.  Good or bad, it’s out there for the word to see as part of his legacy 100 years from now.  He also noted the stress of being situated in a lineup of epic authors. He said “it better be good. What a historic fool of epochal proportions I’d look, if they opened it in 2114 and it wasn’t any good.”  The next author in the lineup is Icelandic Author Sjón. He is the first non-english contributor, and is delighted to contribute to a project that is so revered in the literary world. He is also intrigued and delighted about his contribution, as there are approximately 330,000 Icelandic Speakers in the word today. Sjón points out that “there’s no guarantee that in 100 years, Icelandic as a literary language will still be around”

As Sjón contemplates his contribution, Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell breathe a deep sigh of completion- we will keep our eyes on the progress of Future Library.  We woefully await the announcement of the other great works we will never read – but we also glean hope from the notion that our shared love of literature will carry on.


You can find out more information about Future Library at


Books to add to your present library:

    1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    3. From The Mouth of the Whale by Sjón


-Morgan Messick

Originally published on


Morgan Circle

Morgan Messick is a Pop-Culture fanatic, Podcast Host, and total #BookBabe living in Austin, TX with her Husband and little dog Scoop. She aspires to grow her #TBR pile, do all of the hiking, travel as often as possible and make a joke at every turn. She utilizes laughter and yoga for daily medicine, thinks that Harry Potter is magic for all ages, and truly believes Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (SO DEAL WITH IT.) Catch her musings here, and around the web — links in the “about” page!


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