Susan F. Gregory, director of the Bozeman Public Library, MT, welcomed attendees of LJ’s Design Institute (DI) to the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver-certified building this May. Opened in 2006, the facility is at once both warmly rustic, clearly inspired by its spectacular mountain setting, and right on trend with the best of national library design. It offers open sight lines, a lofty roof with metal accents, lots of glass (balanced by plenty of wood), hands-on tech, and spaces for people inside and out, making it the perfect setting for attendees to plan the right library for their own communities.
The story of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), OH, main library renovation is a familiar one these days: indeed, it has become practically archetypal. A gorgeous old Carnegie, opened in 1907, had long since been outgrown. Over the century and with four additions, it had been married to expansions—the most recent bringing the library to more than 250,000 square feet. Done in 1991, at the height of the trend of stack-centric libraries designed to maximize collections, this latest reformation included virtually no windows, lest the books be damaged by sunlight. Now, a people-first renovation has gently polished the Carnegie and dramatically opened up the addition, thinning the (still ample) collection to focus on space for community in the form of events, meetings, coworking, and simply relaxing and reading—perhaps with a cup of coffee from the new Carnegie Café.
The transformation is evident even before visitors enter. Moving down Boylston Street from Copley Square, past the side of the historic McKim Building, the façade of the Boston Public Library (BPL) no longer resembles a bunker. The massive granite slabs that once obscured the entrance are now embedded in the pavement. Through the glass, passersby can see people lining a laptop bar. It’s 10:30 on a Thursday morning, and the place is jamming.
With so many Americans sitting for hours at work, and so many studies showing that inactivity is problematic to health outcomes, incorporating furniture and fixtures that encourage fitness and physical activity into the library is a way to help patrons in the here and now and let them try out options for future home use.
When the recession hit pause on the plans Kansas’s Wichita Public Library (WPL) had to replace its aging central building, library leaders used the opportunity to tap into community feedback. As a result, the replacement will offer features and services tailored to patrons’ needs and will support the city as it moves into the future by fostering civic growth and engagement.
Few libraries are better positioned to host a daylong conference than the Nashville Public Library (NPL). NPL’s elegant Main Library opened in 2001 and still feels new, in part because its style, which designer Robert A.M. Stern described as “modern classical” and which features Ionic columns, Georgia marble floors, and Alabama limestone facing, doesn’t date as quickly as something intended to look state-of-the-art. Its 300,000 square feet include a large, self-contained event space that was perfect for attendees from around the United States to do a deep dive into library design informed by, but not disturbing, the surrounding library business as usual.