Time hasn’t gone by at work without my mind starting to wander. The “Library Buildings” concept is beginning to dig into the wrinkles of my brain. I’m curious as to what librarians fancy when they fancy a dream building. This is just a quick sketch of mine.
A few things broken in my own: the acoustics, meeting room space, and young adult area.
When the library discovered the community wasn’t going to let them move into a cozy spot next to a local community college a few years back – they began an expansion project on the current grounds. The results: towering ceilings and a collection housed in a manner that places non-fiction on the opposite end of the library from fiction and audio/visual media. It makes for lots of walking. The main set of computers sit between the two, right in front of the reference desk. [these need to be timed for equal use, coupled with a print management system that requires printing fees to be paid up front. ideally there would be roving tech pages to assist with issues so that the queue at the reference desk doesn't begin to wrap into the computer section] The towering ceilings and long hollowed out hallway that winds away from reference and past circulation makes for bouncy noises. Bouncy here bouncy there — echoey cavernous library. Apparently the architect was going for open and airy. It’s just too open, and too airy — and in all the wrong places.
The library as meeting place becomes a library of isolating spaces. Meeting rooms are in constant demand in an environment where one does not want to be disturbed or to disturb while studying in groups. Couple that with the lasting stigma that libraries should be quiet places, and you have an exceeding demand for possible space. Often, the kids out of school want to snatch up a room so they can unleash some of that after school energy in a sealed environment. Some actually do homework — sometimes it’s a festival of cookies and cuttin’ up.
When the four meeting spaces fill up, which they do, inevitably, each and every day – the kids head toward the young adult section. Tucked back into a corner of the library far from the reference desk – but conveniently located next to the browsing room where the magazines and newspapers and plush leather chairs and fireplace are all sopped together for a nice place to sit and relax and turn pages. But those high ceilings! They’re everywhere! And bouncy bouncy bouncy noises fill the room to the brim.
“Don’t make me shush,” I plead inside. “I don’t want to be a shushing librarian.” But I must – because the bouncy bouncy bouncies are disturbing those who expect the library to be a quiet place.
So — for the next person who builds a library — wrap the building with terrarium encasements for use as group rooms. People outside see people inside. Couple the isolationist environment wisely with the meeting environment. People move in herds — and want to be in their respective herds. (Mingling and meeting seems to be met with some degree of consternation in my location by those who would be mingling and meeting.) Build it in the round – so that the reference team is equidistant from each collection. A big ole bullseye right in the middle. A gigantic paddle wheel – so I can peer down the stacks. And build it with a children’s and young adult section — so that we don’t have to shush as much.
Of course you can’t. How can you afford it? But wouldn’t it just be a dream?
[someday soon i'll find some time to spruce up the back pages of this site -- whose styles are currently non-existent.]