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Library of the Future

A literary project conceived by artist Katie Paterson will preserve unread manuscripts for the next 100 years in Oslo.

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If you’re reading this, you will most likely never read Margaret Atwood’s latest work. It will only be published 99 years from now, printed on paper from a forest of Norwegian spruce trees planted specially for the purpose. Atwood’s book will be the first entry in Oslo’s Future Library. Conceived by the Scottish artist Katie Paterson (who once broadcast the sounds of a melting glacier live to gallery-goers on their mobile phones), the forward-looking project plans to commission one original text from 100 different authors— some of whom have yet to be born— every year over the next century. Whether a novel, a poem, or a single word, each manuscript will be locked away inside the forthcoming Oslo Public Library in a room that Paterson is designing with wood from the Nordmarka forest, until 2114. “All books are time machines anyway,” Atwood says. “But to all those who ask, ‘Do you think your work will still be read in a hundred years’ time?’ I can now answer, ‘Yes. If there are people, a Norway, and a Future Library, some of it will be.’”

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