Long Live Libraries
I cannot remember my first trip to a library, as it seems as though libraries have always formed a part of my consciousness. Such wonderful spaces filled with books of all sizes and colours for both the young and the not-so-young reader. As a teenager, especially, I spent many hours in my local public library. I would borrow my full quota of 12 books and then read and return them within the week. These days I spend most of my library time in the university, but I still hold a great affection for the public lending system. I think possibly the best public library I’ve been to in recent years was the new one in Kirkwall, Orkney. It has a truly phenomenal children’s section and their fiction collection seems quite literally endless. I would seriously consider moving to Orkney Mainland just to have that library as my local!
But, of course, libraries are not the domain of just books these days. Libraries are required to be at the forefront of knowledge transfer. They need to cater for the changing needs of those they serve, and they need to maintain their relevancy in a digital age. I’ve been thinking a lot about libraries today (see today’s Tumblr) after watching a great talk by Joshua Prince-Ramos, the architect behind the Seattle public library construction. He talks about the social role that libraries have, and how his design in Seattle accommodates this through its integration of a ‘living room’ area: a freely available communal space for conversation, rest or simply respite from the rain. He also talks about how the space within the library needs to be flexible in order to adapt to the changing and unforeseeable demands of the future. His observations concerning library use are incisive, and his solutions to some of the problems pertaining to flexible space are extremely innovative. I thoroughly recommend that you take the time to listen to it!
Do you use your public library? Do you think that libraries in general are keeping abreast of technological advances? What changes would you like to see effected in your local library?