Realising the Opportunity: Libraries in Sustainable Urban Development

METLIB Satellite Meeting
Rotterdam skyline
Friday 18 Aug 2023, 09:00 - 18:00
Spoken Language
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Around 75 librarians, urban planners, academic researchers, and economists will come together to explore how libraries contribute to sustainable urban development. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 directly addresses Sustainable Cities and Communities, while some of the other SDGs relating to Good Health and Well Being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4) (SDG 13), both touch on key determinants of sustainable urbanisation and represent areas where libraries play a supportive role.

Libraries serve as a destination and a gathering place, bringing people together in the urban centre and in local neighbourhoods, often serving as a third space that is both welcoming and a refuge. The library provides flexible programming that identifies and addresses local needs in areas such as literacy, digital skills, employment support and cultural affirmation, all issues contributing towards community engagement and the fulfilment of individual potential and rights. The library may serve as a partner agency for other urban actors, providing history, documentation, digital support, etc.

Looking across these questions, the meeting wishes to identify factors contributing to the library’s value as a partner in sustainable urban development as well as barriers to such a role. Are there ways that libraries could enhance their ability to contribute to urban development and policymaking? How can urban policy-makers and development specialists better realise the potential of libraries?

The program now has its speakers confirmed for the morning sessions, including a recorded Keynote by Carlos Moreno, Pantheon Sorbonne University on the 15-minute city and libraries. Other speakers include Aat Vos (Architect), Hanne Vogt (City Librarian Cologne), Chad Carpenter Project Leader, Architecture LEED AP, New York (Snohetta) and Karen Beach (Deputy Director) of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation. In the afternoon sessions the meeting’s participants will be encouraged to dig deeper into the topics raised in the morning through a series of parallel workshops which will also include other themes of relevance to the meeting.

The full programme of the event will be published soon and people interested in attending will be invited to register.


Location: Library multi-functional area


  • Carolyn Anthony, METLIB
  • David Dodman, IHS director
  • Chairs Ton van Vlimmeren and Mathilde Servet describe the day’s program

This recorded keynote explores how the concept of the 15-minute city could be applied to libraries.


  • Carlos Moreno, Professor at the Pantheon Sorbonne University

This session focuses on the urban development of public spaces and libraries as examples and as 3rd places.


  • Aat Vos, Architect
  • Dr. Hanne Vogt, City Librarian Cologne

Location: Library multi-functional area

This session looks at developments at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library in the USA.


  • Chad Carpenter Project Leader, Architecture LEED AP, New York (Snohetta)
  • Marcellus Turner, CEO of the Charlotter Mecklenburg Library
  • Karen Beach, Deputy Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation

Delegates need to elect a maximum of two workshops for the parallel workshop sessions in the afternoon.

Location: Library multi-functional area


  • Workshop 1 - The 15-minute city and libraries
  • Workshop 2 - Libraries as community hubs
  • Workshop 3 - Libraries as engines for participation


  • Workshop 4  - Co-location – exploring the advantages and disadvantages: views from a library perspective and a ‘co-tenant’
  • Workshop 5 - Rotterdam Central Library and community engagement in decision making
  • Workshop Advocacy

Location: Library multi-functional area

One reporter from each workshop reports back on their progress.

Location: Classroom 1-2

Join this session to get to know the attendees and speakers better.

More about the speakers

Marcellus Turner, CEO of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

With a storied career of opportunities, experiences and learned lessons working in libraries, Marcellus “MT” Turner wants all who meet him to know his passion for libraries as both institutions and community information centres. A highly esteemed orator and guest lecturer, MT started his new role as CEO and Chief Librarian of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in April 2021.

Chad Carpenter, Project Leader at Snøhetta

Chad Carpenter is an experienced Project Leader at Snøhetta's New York office, known for his inclusive approach to architecture. His team creates exceptional spaces that foster civic engagement and a sense of welcome. Snøhetta has designed notable public and cultural projects for over 30 years, including the Norwegian National Opera and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Expansion.

Karen Beach, Deputy Director of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation

Karen Beach, CFRE, has been with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library since 1994, serving in several different capacities, from the Director of Community Engagement to the Deputy Director of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation. Karen helped create the Library Foundation and has been active in the planning and funding of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s new Main Library. 

Aat Vos, Creative Director of Includi

As a creative director of includi, Aat and his team embrace a clear mission: to revitalize modern society with the aim of making people feel welcome and comfortable in a wide variety of third places. Aat Vos was awarded the Karl-Preusker Medal 2021 of the BID in 2021.

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Dr Hannelore Vogt, Director of Cologne Public Library, Germany

Dr Hannelore Vogt is the director of the Cologne Public Library (CPL). Dr Vogt has a degree in Library Science, a Master’s Degree in Cultural Management and Doctorate in Marketing. Under her leadership, the CPL was named the national „Library of the Year“, as was the Würzburg City Library, where she worked before. She was honoured by the Cologne Cultural Department as “Cultural Manager of the Year” and by the Federal Union of German Library Associations with the most prestigious German library award for her “innovative thinking and action”.

METLIB Satellite Meeting Organizing Committee

Carolyn Anthony, Chair, Metropolitan Libraries Section, IFLA

Carolyn Anthony is the current Chair of the Metropolitan Libraries Section of IFLA. She is a Past President of the Public Library Association and a representative of the American Library Association IFLA. She directed a major public library in the Chicago area for 30 years after working in public libraries in the Baltimore area. Carolyn has been particularly active in the areas of outcomes/impact assessment and leadership development. She serves on several local boards and has been named both Illinois Librarian of the Year and an Illinois Woman of Achievement.

Ton van Vlimmeren

Ton is a member of the Standing Committee of the Metropolitan Libraries Section of IFLA, President of EBLIDA, the European Library Organization,  and one of the founders of Public Libraries 2030 In Brussels. He was director of the Utrecht Public Library, active in the international networks of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and held various board positions in the library field. In the city of Utrecht, he also acted as the director of Public Education, Real Estate and Development, and Civic Services. He is currently a member of the Supervising Board of a social housing corporation and works as a consultant.

Nigel Browne, Information Manager, IHS

Nigel has more than thirty years of experience as a hands-on librarian working for nine years at IRC, International Water and Sanitation Centre, and subsequently at IHS. The combination of providing information and knowledge focusing on development in emerging economies is what drives him. Along the way, he has published on a number of occasions, the last being a chapter in a book describing the way in which the IHS library responded to the recent COVID crisis.

The IHS library and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic
More information


Carolyn Anthony
Chair, Metropolitan Libraries Section, IFLA

Nigel Browne
Information Manager, IHS Library

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