about rob bruijnzeels

160829 - Rob Bruijnzeels-0281

As a qualified librarian Rob Bruijnzeels has been working in the Public Library sector for many years. He was head of the policy department of the Dutch Public Library Association and founder and 'curator' of an innovative project called Libraries 2040, which in the course of time has developed into a permanent laboratory and a creative learning environment for future libraries. He was responsible for new initiatives, such as The Library of 100 talents (a new concept for the children's library of the future), The Architecture of Knowledge, a cooperation with the Dutch Architecture Institute in which principles for future library architecture are explored and the LibrarySchool, aimed at educating the librarian of the future. Rob wrote numerous books and articles about the future of library work and is a frequent speaker at home and abroad.
Nowadays he is an independent library consultant and also affiliated to the Ministry of Imagination. The Ministry researches and realizes new types of libraries and library architecture, such as the Chocolate Factory in Gouda (awarded best library in the Netherlands 2015/2016) and the Korenbeurs in Schiedam, al library incorporating a garden that won an award for best interior landscaping project 2015.

Rob is always looking for new inspiration and has a keen eye for developments in related sectors and in society in general. They stimulate him to investigate relationships between new developments and the library sector. He is not afraid to experiment and like to explore possibilities and boundaries and is a analytical and innovative thinker. His main motive is the desire to innovate by looking at the essence of librarian craftsmanship. Besides a thorough knowledge of the public library sector, he has organizational skills and is able to make connections, also with other sectors. Rob has a substantial network of contacts within the sector, as well as with other sectors outside the library world.


Korenbeurs Schiedam
Korenbeurs Library Schiedam (Ministry of Imagination 2014)
De Korenbeurs (Wheat Exchange) in Schiedam is a beautiful classicist building, designed by the Italian-Dutch architect Jan Guidici in 1792. After being leased to companies for many years, it has now become the home of the Public Library, making this listed building freely accessible to all citizens and visitors of Schiedam again. It’s a library with a special feature: a wonderful indoor garden where people can read, relax, enjoy conversations and ‘grow their brains’.
The library is green in more ways than one. Especially for De Korenbeurs, cardboard bookcases and displays were designed that are not only cost-efficient but also reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Like many other cities struggling with increasing store vacancy, Schiedam has much to gain from a lively public space in the historic town centre. Apart from that, the town centre lacks green spaces. With its rectangular courtyard and surrounding gallery, De Korenbeurs strongly resembles a cloister. Since most cloisters have gardens, this soon let to the idea of an indoor garden. In a philosophical way, the garden emphasizes the function of the library as a place of growth. But it’s also a place for contemplation, reading, listening to music or engaging in conversation. Like Cicero once said: "If you have a garden in a library, you have everything you need".

Grrroot Gasthuis (2013)
In a former chapel on the GZG site (an old hospital) in the Ditch medieval city of Den Bosch, we are working on the development of a new library. A project that shows how the future library works in that particular place and how that library makes connections from that place with the city. In this first beta version, we will develop and test what a creative and active library does in the 21st century, how can we implement new paradigms in our work: how do you program? Who are your partners and thereby your stakeholders and how you involve them actively in the realization of the first beta version.

Chocolate Factory ((Ministry of Imagination 2012)
First thing you notice when entering the Chocolate Factory is people, not books. There’s a happy, bustling atmosphere you don’t expect to find in a library. But this is no ordinary library. The building also houses the Mid-Holland Archive, The Gouda Print Workshop and Restaurant Kruim. They all share a common goal: creating an active and dynamic social setting for the people in Gouda; a place to learn, meet others and exchange ideas.
To achieve this, all functions are integrated in an open plan design with an industrial look, softened by wood tones and comfy seating areas. The former chocolate factory has turned into a place of production again. Of knowledge and ideas this time. Why? To remain relevant, libraries and archives need to tap into the collective insight of people and allow their activities and knowledge to become part of the collection. This calls for an inspiring setting where people create and share knowledge and ideas. These processes of inspiration, creation and sharing form the basis of our design philosophy.
Regarding the collection as ‘raw material’ for the production of knowledge, we decided upon compact storage. This left room for various spaces for creation and sharing: the Youth Workshop, based on the theory of multiple intelligences, the Media Workshop for composing multi-media productions, the Print Workshop where craftsmen teach you their skills and a wooden staircase, which also serves as a grandstand. Click
HERE for more information.

Academy of Tomorrow (2013)
I am - along with Bert Mulder - curator of the Flemish Academy of Tomorrow. It is a project of LOCUS - the focal point for libraries, cultural and community centres, and local culture in Flanders - and is set up as an inspiring learning process. At the School, learning, working and innovating will blend together. That comes with an innovative learning method that guarantees the actual transfer of new insights to everyday library practice. The Academy for the Future is an ideal way to share knowledge, gain new insights and - if possible - to put that into practice! It is a community where students, colleagues who are working on innovation and external experts are brought in to explore the future. Together With courage, creativity and alertness we will deal with new ideas for our collections, our program, our buildings and our service. We do this in the form of master classes from renowned experts, discussions, excursions, guest lectures and assignments.

Library School (2010 - 2013)
The LibrarySchool was set up as a academic training program for library management functions in public libraries. The School focused primarily on the training of new employees who have completed college or university and are working in public libraries. Students will obtain an academic master degree at the end of the course, but it was also possible to complete one or more certificate programs. The School provided a learning environment that supports the initiation of innovation. Ideas, knowledge and insights were shared and considered from various angles, so that solutions and new combinations can be created. The School was intented as an attractive and challenging environment for learning and innovating, not only for new talents, but also for their colleagues in the library industry. Participants were considered as important ‘learning resources’, inspirators and knowledge brokers. All brought knowledge and inspiration from the various courses they have taken.

joost swarte 100 talenten
the library of the 100 talents
This is a concept for the youth library of the future. More than ever the library sees itself confronted by fundamental changes in today’s society. Contemporary libraries need to rethink what they have to offer yet hold ground in a time of (cultural) superabundance: a time of too much information, a multitude of media and books, an array of lifestyle choices, too much superficial commercialism, too much to do and many things to maintain. In the apparent profusion of information, media, consumption and activities, there is an opportunity for libraries to step up as important questions are being asked: how do we create richness through abundance? What can be judged as true and meaningful information? What makes particular information special to the person taking it in, using it for his or her own purposes? The librarian could play an important role in these questions but in which way? The library of the future seeks answers to these questions and raises new questions. By thinking up and developing new forms of practice and forward-thinking strategies, the library of the future looks ahead without leaving her roots behind. Children are important for the library of the future since they are the ‘hands-on’ experts when it comes to the use of new and old media. In the Library of the Hundred Talents librarians and children shape the new youth library together by taking a contemporary and imaginative perspective on finding and using information through media. In this way the youth library could become a factory of ideas made by and for children, offering a space wherein talents have room to grow thanks to a library that organizes itself differently.

October 2010 Biblion Publishers released a cassette of three books about this exciting project. It is a bilingual edition: Dutch and English.

NAI architectuur project TAOK omslag boek

The architecture of Knowledge (2009)
Information is knowledge. Knowledge is the library’s commodity. As a result it attracts producers and consumers of this knowledge. To survive it should be aware and adaptable to changes and influences in this age of information and communication. What form and position will its physical and conceptual structure need to take in order to endure these changes in the data saturated realm of public and private society? 'The architecture of knowledge.The public library of the future.' is a collaborative project organized by The Netherlands Public Library Association and the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in 2009, consisting of a lecture series followed by a two week workshop for students.

In 2010 NAi Booksellers
released a book about the project.

omslag kopie
Bookmark | What if? (2006)
What happens if 28 young designers from the famous Deign Academy Eindhoven dedicate themselves for four months to the library of tomorrow?

In 2006
a book was published about this project.

anders bekeken
A fresh Look at the Library (2006 - 2010)
The wants and needs of today’s society are radically different from those of ten or twenty years ago. Other answers are required. But not answers that are based on fashion or quick gains. A truly future-oriented strategy is only possible if you really understand what the essence of the public library is. What must be changed and what cannot be changed? We are therefore posing the question that concerns the ‘soul’ of library work. It is impossible to think about the future without knowledge of our past, our origins, our right of existence. Where are we from and how do we fit into today’s developing society?

nieuw logo 2040
Libraries 2040 (2000 - now)
The central focus in the ‘libraries 2040’ project is on the future of public libraries. In most future projections, the principal question is what expectations there are for the future: the probable future. That is the future of extrapolated trends and factual expectations. This project is all about what we ourselves want in a chosen future, a future in which our ideals and dreams also have a fair chance. By 2040, the traditional public libraries will have ceased to exist and new, attractive future libraries will have taken their place. What will they be like? The libraries 2040 project is looking for an answer to this question by initiating seven different libraries of the future. Not by dictating how this should be done, but by giving fantasy and inspiration free rein. Now The Libraries 2040 project is a ‘permanent laboratory’ for future Library work.