Meeting Grounds Edition One: Eindhoven Public Library
In the form of a mobile trailer, Meeting Grounds operates as an assembly point to collectivity explore, articulate and question the current functions of planned urban space, shared public resources and technological advancements in the city of Eindhoven. In doing so, this year-long programme of meet-ups and events, across key locations within the city, seeks to activate the social and ethical foundations on the sites in which we enjoy our cultural lives and establish common ground in doing so.
Meeting Grounds’ first destination of activation will be the Public Library. Known locally as the city’s “living room”, the Public Library offers access to shared, communal spaces that house a multitude of resources. In turn, the library facilitates the exchange of knowledge and understanding between its diverse users and publics, providing key social infrastructure in the city of Eindhoven. Yet with a mere 579 public libraries currently operating in the Netherlands in comparison to the 1,100 that existed in the early 1990’s, it appears that a combination of restrictive governmental policies, dwindling resources, budget cuts and increasing pressures to productivise, digitalize and essentially, technocratize the way libraries run, means that the ways in which we are able to access such shared spaces and knowledge resources are heavily impacted.
It is clear that public libraries are spaces that serve multiple public interests and needs. The Eindhoven Public Library is no exception in providing such social infrastructure, housing a number of Eindhoven’s community-focused initiatives, such as a delayed coffee service that supports those who would otherwise be unable to afford warm food and drinks alongside delivering Dutch lessons to Expats and reading groups for children and, above all, offering a space for residents from varying neighbourhoods, ages, interests, and backgrounds to meet and talk with one another whilst simultaneously accessing books, magazines, journals, workshops, group sessions, meet-ups, computer services and more, showing the public library to play a vital role in the process of social integration and community building in Eindhoven. Bibliotheek Eindhoven is not the only library space offering such resources, Eindhoven plays host a multitude of alternative reading and library spaces including IFL (Informal Feminist Library), Van Abbe Queer Book Club, the mobile beeb and pirate libraries. For this edition of Meeting Grounds we will be working with a number of library spaces, both physical and digital to further understand the library’s function as a public space for community building, collective exchange and social cohesion and preservation within and across the city of Eindhoven.
Join us from February until May 2020 for Meeting Grounds’ First Edition: The Public Library.
 The future of the Dutch public library: ten years on, Frank Huysmans Carlien Hillebrink