A FEW YEARS AGO at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, CA, I had dinner with librarians from three large universities. The conversation turned to something they had in common: they were all moving print book collections at their respective institutions off-site to make room for student spaces. Back then, this was a big deal, and these administrators met with opposition and angst from their constituents.
We talk a lot about resilience when we discuss library sustainability. It is one of the trends identified by Miguel Figueroa, an LJ 2005 Mover & Shaker, in the recent “Forecasting the Future of Libraries” report. It encompasses a broad swath of library work—dynamic programming, deep and robust community commitment to the well-being of the institution, and facility design that can withstand the very real threats of extreme weather change that comes with global warming. Resilience also means creating buildings that don’t drain precious natural resources.
New and renovated library news from San Diego, Detroit, and more from the April 1, 2015 issue of Library Journal.
A big part of improving library user experience is designing libraries based on user preferences and behavior. There’s no way to optimize touchpoints or create meaningful services if you don’t know anything about who you’re trying to serve, right? Many libraries collect and analyze user opinions, but fewer dive deeper into examining actual user behavior.
More than five years after it first opened in November 2009, the renovated and expanded Cambridge Public Library (CPL) in Massachusetts is still receiving accolades. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) sent two judges to CPL this past November to evaluate the library for its prestigious Institute Honor Award for Architecture. The new library was designed by William Rawn Associates in conjunction with Ann Beha Architects, who handled the restoration of the original 1889 library. CPL has won 22 awards, including the Boston Society of Architects’ Harleston Parker Medal for “the single most beautiful building” built in the Boston area in the last ten years. It was also featured in the American Libraries Library Design Showcase (2010).
The award-winning Library of Birmingham (LB), which garnered applause and approval across the U.K. when it was built in 2013, is about to fall on hard times. After opening to great fanfare a little over a year ago, the library has been finding it hard to keep up with costs, citing a lack of private sponsorship and the Birmingham City Council’s (BCC) failure to raise promised money from land sales. Then at the end of 2014 the BCC announced a round of austerity measures that will cut some £72 million in funding for the arts, parks and recreation, care services, cemeteries, and children’s care services for 2015–16. Approximately £1.5 million will be cut from LB’s annual £10 million operating costs, meaning that 100 of the library’s 188 staff could be eliminated, and its hours reduced from 73 to 40 per week.
Library design is forward-thinking by nature, yet the idea of the library—as a gateway to learning, a public space open to all, a place to find what you’re looking for—is iconic. Today’s public libraries are re-imagining services, space, collections, and programming in ways that engage communities and celebrate creativity. Their design reflects a changing reality, yet also needs to stand the test of time. LJ’s New Landmark Libraries initiative identifies the top new libraries to look at for ideas and inspiration. The 2015 New Landmark Libraries will focus on public libraries that have completed new construction, expansion, or significant renovation within the last four years (2010–2014). We are accepting submissions now through March 31.
The library construction projects completed between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, seem to have found common purpose around a common theme: community. As such, many of the 16 academic projects and 84 public library capital efforts find themselves at the center of their respective neighborhoods. Whether large or small, on an expansive budget or a shoestring, these facilities strengthen ties among their constituencies and between learning and entertainment.