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Re-shaping the past, preserving the future. Libraries as cultural heritage holders: the case of the Biblioteca Lazzerini in Prato

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conference contribution
posted on 2019-10-11, 04:01 authored by Irene GuidottiIrene Guidotti
14th CIRN (Community Informatics Research Network) Prato Conference 2017, 25-27 October 2017
Monash University Centre, Prato, Italy
Special Stream: Art as Archive: Archive as Art & The Imagined Archive

I assisted with the preparation of the conference, presented a paper and co-authored another presentation.


Along with archives and museums, libraries have the public mission to preserve the cultural heritage for their communities. Several cases are known of pre-existing buildings with a non-library function that have been recycled and renovated worldwide. In other cases a specific plan has been put in action to re-evaluate and give new shape to emblematic buildings which are a strong part of the history and culture of a specific community. One successful example of the latter is the Lazzerini Documentation and Cultural Centre of Prato, the recovery of which, started in 2000 and concluded in 2009, was aimed at designing a new larger location in the former Campolmi Textile Factory, a well-known example of the manufacturing tradition of the city. The paper investigates the case of the Lazzerini Library and the symbolic and critical role of historical building-renovated libraries, examining how they persist, not only as guardians of documentary material and memory, but as an expression of cultural heritage preservation themselves.

Background to the Conference

Since the founding colloquium in 2003, the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) has been marked by informality, collegiality and interdisciplinary thinking, bringing together people from many different countries in an ideal Italian setting. Themes have ranged across issues such as privilege, gender and sexual identities, forms of knowledge, documentation, participation and community-based research, power, ideals and reality, and measurement. For this edition, we chose a theme that traverses new spaces and boundaries and provokes thinking (and action) between different communities of interest. Thus, those focussed in more conventional activity in community, development and archival informatics may be provoked by what those in the art and archives space have to show and tell, and the reverse also applies.

2017 special theme: Art as Archive: Archive as Art & The Imagined Archive

There has long been discussion about the relationship between art and archives, not just in the sense that archives may represent curated collections relating to specific artists or forms of art, but that art may be used to provide new ways of conceiving what is in archival collections, and new ways of thinking about the nature and meaning of those collections. These themes were explored by a number of papers discussing radical archives at Prato 2016, but in 2017 we went further exploring the relationship from multiple perspectives.


Monash University - Faculty of Information Technology