When it comes to thinking about lighting, two common misconceptions dominate library design. The first is that cutting energy consumption equals sustainability—it doesn’t. Then there’s the notion that everything in a library space should be equally lit, which in practice just means that lighting fails to draw attention to or emphasize any part of the space. Dashing these notions guided the lighting design during the renovation of Madison Public Library’s (MPL) Central Library, WI. The result is an architecturally integrated lighting system that helps to transform a decrepit 1965 building into a state-of-the-art facility, registered for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, with a highly flexible architectural interior and an operational lighting demand almost half of what is allowed by code.
Dalhousie University’s library system was in a bind. Bound books, mostly out-of-date academic journals that had since been uploaded to online databases, had been piling up for years. At nearly 50,000 volumes, the library was running out of space, and shredding didn’t work. When builder and inventor David Cameron heard of the problem, he hoped to solve two problems at once, by using them to insulate an abandoned schoolhouse that’s now a community center focused on sustainability.