Wednesday, June 18, 2014

UpClose: Designing 21st-Century Libraries | Library by Design

UpClose: Designing 21st-Century Libraries | Library by Design
By Peter Gisolfi

Public libraries are busier and more popular with patrons than ever. Today’s library is a place for social interaction as well as quiet reading. It is a community cultural center, not simply a repository for books. It is a welcoming building with a design focus on transparency, not a series of isolated spaces.

ELEVEN EMERGING TRENDS

It is often difficult to recognize changing trends while they are still in flux. That said, consider the typical characteristics of today’s 21st-century library. While the library remains an inspiring public building with an important civic presence, many other aspects are different:


  • An informal community cultural center
  • Transparency among spaces so patrons can be seen and more easily served
  • Reading spaces interspersed within the various collections
  • Larger and more varied spaces for children and teens
  • Community, meeting, and activity rooms of varied sizes
  • Daylight in all areas of the building
  • Connections to outdoor space
  • Spaces devoted to computer and Internet instruction and online research
  • Automated systems, and increased staff efficiency
  • Flexibility to accommodate future requirements
  • The library as a community model for sustainable practice

NINE NEW WAYS WE USE LIBRARIES

Emerging trends in library building design dramatically affect how the library performs—and vice versa. Today’s patrons and staff use the library differently:
  • Increased number of digital materials reduces space devoted to book collections
  • Automated self-checkout reduces or eliminates the circulation desk
  • Digital card catalog OPAC stations are scattered throughout the library rather than centralized
  • Wireless Internet access throughout the library lets patrons bring their own devices, decreasing the need for banks of stationary computers
  • Automated materials handling systems in larger libraries free up staff and shorten wait times
  • Staff are more accessible to patrons and less separated from them
  • More extensive programming for children and teens is offered
  • Caf├ęs induce informal socializing and an enhanced sense of community
  • Community room, meeting rooms, and even art galleries have a wider agenda

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