Realising the Opportunity: Libraries in Sustainable Urban Development

METLIB Satellite Meeting
Rotterdam skyline
Friday 18 Aug 2023, 09:00 - 18:00
Spoken Language
Add to calendar

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 & Creative Director at includi), 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 & Creative Director at includi
  • 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

Session description 

As part of the visioning and planning for their new central library, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Snøhetta built a strong base of community support and engagement. This community involvement generated an innovative library program and spearheaded a larger development of underutilized portions of central Charlotte.

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: 

    The "Proximities Fresco" is an innovative discovery workshop created by researchers from Chaire ETI (from IAE Paris Sorbonne Business School). It is a collaborative engagement tool aiming at helping participants self-reflect on their daily routines and the spatial and temporal dimensions of their lifestyles at the city, territory or neighbourhood scale. Participants are invited to use fictional characters or to share and map their personal weekly activities on a canvas structured around the six social functions (organized by distance to home, mode of transport and frequency). There is no fixed number of participants. The dynamics of the workshop are self-taught, thanks to the structured but intuitive process. Small groups encourage engagement and learning. The printed material consists of five documents: a worksheet, a bookmark with definitions, a challenge card, a problem-solving canvas, and possibly a certificate of completion.

  • Workshop 2 - Libraries as community hubs: In this workshop, Hannelore Vogt and Aat Vos will interact with participants following up on their presentation in the morning program and discuss all questions and issues brought forward.
  • Workshop 3 - Libraries as engines for participation: Through a facilitated conversation regarding community participation, attendees will engage and share the best, new and unorthodox ways of engaging and building community support for a new library.


  • Workshop 4  - Co-location – exploring the advantages and disadvantages: views from a library perspective and a ‘co-tenant’: More and more libraries nowadays are co-located with other facilities. Amsterdam Public Library OBA has made it a regular policy. Why is this interesting for libraries? Is it also interesting for citizens and (re)structuring neighbourhoods? Are there different models in different countries? What are the lessons to be learned? Chris Sigaloff and Roel van den Sigtenhorst will introduce this topic and moderate the discussion.
  • Workshop 5 - Rotterdam Central Library and community engagement in decision making: In Rotterdam, the city council was very strict on the involvement of the citizens in the process of renovation of the Central Library, which has led to an interesting and valuable process of communication, selection of the architects and cooperation in the renovation. Dr. Theo C.M. Kemperman- Director of Rotterdam Library, will provide a 20-minute introduction, and a group discussion on the issues raised will follow.
  • Workshop 6 - Advocacy: The library as a full partner in the development of a new library in a new urban environment: Often, in a development process, not all participants have an equal position at the table, and many libraries find themselves advocating for their interests. How can they do this? What are the benefits of cooperation between equals for citizens, the city, and the library? What are the lessons learned from such a process? This workshop is introduced and moderated by Marie Oestergard based on her experience.

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

Portrait of Carlos Moreno
Thomas Baltes

Carlos Moreno, Scientific Director of the Chair ''Entrepreneurship Territory Innovation'', Sorbonne University-IAE Paris

Carlos Moreno earned recognition as a scientist with an innovative mind, pioneer works and a unique approach to urban issues. He is also a scientific advisor to national and international figures of the highest level. He works at the heart of issues of international significance as a result of his research, bringing an innovative perspective on urban issues and offering solutions to the issues faced by the cities, metropolises and territories during the 21st century. Some of his concepts travelled the world: the ‘Human Smart City’, the ’ 15-Minute City’, and the ’30-Minute Territory. In June 2022, he led the launch of the Global Observatory of proximities at the WorldUrban Forum #WUF11 with UN-Habitat, C40 Cities, UCLG and other partners.

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, Architect & Creative Director at 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.

Find out more

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”.

Portrait of Roel van den Sigtenhorst

Roel van den Sigtenhors, CEO of Muntpunt in Brussels, Belgium

Roel van den Sigtenhorst is the new CEO of Muntpunt, the Flemish Metropol Library in Brussels (Belgium). He has been working at the OBA Public Library of Amsterdam for 5 years and was mainly focussed on strategic partnerships and creating shared spaces and co-facilities with partnerorganizations within the 27 branches of the Amsterdam Library district.  

Portrait of Marie Oestergard

Marie Oestergaard, Director of Aarhus Public Libraries, Denmark

Marie Oestergaard was the project leader for the building of the Dokk1 library in Aarhus, Denmark. Marie is currently the director of Aarhus Public Libraries, a newly elected member of the Standing Committee of the Metropolitan Libraries Section of IFLA, and Chair of the Founders of Public Libraries 2030 in Brussels.

Forbes Davidson, Urban Planning Consultant

Forbes has a long experience in international urban development planning, management teaching and writing.  He has his own practice and is also an associate of IHS.  His current focus is on participatory and integrated planning and implementation of urban projects with a focus on working on issues connected to climate change. He thinks that libraries can help ensure that the lessons from urban practice are captured and made accessible for the long-term learning of professionals, communities, and decision-makers so that we learn from experience both internationally and locally.  

Learn more
Portrait of Catherine Gall

Catherine Gall, Executive Director of Chaire ETI

Chaire ETI (Entrepreneurship Territory Innovation) is a research lab based at IAE Paris (University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne), co-founded by Professors Carlos Moreno, Didier Chabaud and Florent Pratlong. Chaire ETI is specialized in challenging conventional urban planning models and is well known today for the body of research called “the 15-minute City / 30 mn territory Model”. Catherine Gall is a regular author and visiting teacher in several business and design curriculums in Europe. She constantly seeks to understand the interplay of space, technology, culture and behaviours to drive positive impact for human beings and organizations.

Portrait of Chris Sigaloff

Chris Sigaloff, Project Leader at OBA Next, Amsterdam

Chris Sigaloff currently works as the project leader for OBA Next, a new public library for the city of Amsterdam. Chris is an expert in the field of social innovation and civil society. She has a history working as a director, developer and advisor working on creative solutions for complex societal issues. For over ten years, she was the director of a think tank based in Amsterdam, which is an important player in the field of social innovation, education, copyright and digital heritage.

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.

Mathilde Servet, Chief Librarian

Mathilde Servet is in charge of innovative services for the network of 72 libraries in the City of Paris. She is on the governing board of the French National Association of Third Spaces and on the Standing Committee of the Metropolitan Libraries Section of IFLA.

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

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes