November 19, 2017

User-Designed Libraries | Design4Impact

These days, collecting deep public input before the design phase of a new construction or renovation of a library is de rigueur, with methods ranging from focus groups to community outreach to social media. But a few libraries are taking it to the next level, not just finding out what patrons need or value and filtering that through the lens of librarian and architect expertise but also letting users directly drive design decisions in collaboration with the professionals.

Bringing Boston In | Design4Impact

The average age of users in the newly renovated second floor of Boston Public Library’s (BPL) Johnson Building has come down at least a decade, and it’s easy to see why. Philip Johnson’s massive addition to BPL’s iconic Beaux-Arts style McKim Building opened in 1972. According to the BPL website, the requests for the exterior were that the building should “observe the existing roof line of the McKim Building, and to use material (Milford granite) that would harmonize with the exterior of the existing Central Library building.” The result was a Brutalist monolith, experimental in structure and stark in aesthetic.

Creating Clear and Simple Signage | Design4Impact

At California’s Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD), we have discovered that 48 percent of patrons prefer finding information themselves rather than asking staff members for help. This led us to examine our user experience of signage, particularly for computer use. We wanted to place ­signage in the exact place where patrons need help and ensure it was meaningful in guiding them in their independent use of the library.

The Way Upward | Design4Impact

Wayfinding in libraries is too often an afterthought. But not in Vancouver, WA, where the newly constructed Vancouver Community Library (VCL) had signage planned into the design. The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District hired the Miller Hull Partnership architects as well as wayfinding specialists Mayer/Reed and AldrichPears for “interpretive installation.” The result is an intuitive setup that gives patrons the broad brushstrokes at a glance, while being future-proof enough to accommodate shifts in the collection in the years to come.

Making Room for Community | Design4Impact

The West Jordan Library, UT, is the new central headquarters for the Salt Lake County Library (SLCL) system. You might think a building of more than 70,000 square feet would not have to worry about efficient ways to make space do double, or even triple, duty. But when it houses 20,000 square feet of administration, management support, and information technology and another 20,000 square feet of library proper including room for 150,000 titles, it makes sense that the 7,100 square foot community room is designed to serve multiple functions.

Raising the Genius Bar | Design4Impact

In “A Genius Idea?,” Michael Stephens’s recent Office Hours column (LJ 3/15/14), Stephens refers to a post on the Librarian Shaming Tumblr that called for libraries to have their own “Genius Bars,” reminiscent of the Apple Store’s famous retail innovation. As Stephens points out, many libraries are already adopting—and adapting—this concept.

Starting from Scratch | Design4Impact

Richland Library, COLUMBIA, SC, has been making steady, thoughtful progress toward transforming its library space for some time, even though the building is not yet designed. What it’s redesigning first is the design process itself. The goal: to activate the library anew.

Measuring Outcomes | Design4Impact

Whether a library is designing a building or a program, the first premise of designing for impact is figuring out what impact you’re trying to make and how you’re going to assess whether that impact is occurring. One of the most common buzzwords in librarianship today is “outcomes, not outputs.” In other words, measuring not quantitative metrics of what libraries do, such as circulation or visits, but what impact those activities have on the lives of their patrons.

What Wallets Have To Do with Libraries | Design4Impact

How would you reenvision a wallet to do what you really need it to, not just what you’re used to it doing? How about a wristwatch wallet, powered by body temperature and jammed with digital utility, plus a secret compartment for real money? The idea, articulated in this pipe cleaner and Post-its model (pictured) by Salt Lake County’s Jim Cooper and TLC Labs’ Will Evans, is the result of a Design Thinking exercise conducted at LJ’s Directors Summit, held November 19-20, 2013, in Chicago, in partnership with Chicago Public Library (CPL).