Not So Distant Future

technology, libraries, and schools

Not So Distant Future

Library Design with Intention

February 9, 2013 · 9 Comments · Web 2.0

In my recent presentation at TCEA2013, I shared ideas for rethinking/revamping library design to meet the needs to students and teachers.   Most critical to our approach is to take an intentional view of our own spaces–to look at them as a stranger would and identify  obstacles to use, observe how students are learning in the library space, notice the impacts of technology on how your library functions, ask students and teachers what they would like.   Prakish Nair, of Design Share, suggests that we create learning spaces around many different areas–like watering holes for communication, caves for quiet learning, etc.  (See examples of their concepts here: watering hole and cave spaces ).  Your library can function as what Joyce Valenza calls a “libratory” or as a kitchen, or like a studio.   Think about how you would like it to function in a way that means students’ needs.

What are obstacles to learning in your space or obstacles to your interactions with students?  Whether it’s poor signage, giant  circulation desks which discourage student interaction, or policies that make it difficult for students and teachers to use your space, take a critical eye to your space.

As technology and other changes continue to affect our services, we need to think “flexible” when we are redesigning a space.  How can we create spaces that can be changed throughout the year to suit the uses we need?  Mobile furniture, dividers, and walls that fold or slide can all be ways to create more flexible spaces.

And how we can make our design more intentional and coherent, so that the pieces we choose, and the fonts and signage we use all cohere to create a unified feel to our library?   Again, observing our space with the eyes of a new student will help us see how we can help them navigate our library more easily.

Sometimes we have funds, and sometimes funds are low.  So think how you can get creative.   Can you have your own district maintenance shop cut apart your circulation desk?  Can they take out a section of carpet and put in floor tiles to create a “cafe” space?  Can you paint or have someone repaint a few “highlight” walls?  Can your art department contribute a mural?   Whether or not you have funds, it doesn’t cost much to take down all of your signage and replace it with “logo” signage that a student creates and is unified with the same font.

Ideas can be found everywhere, from chalkboards in restaurants to painted walls to storefronts in Anthropologie to items from IKEA.
Take a camera with you, look around, and snap photos of what appeals to you as a learner.  Ask some students to do the same.  Assemble a Pinterest page of ideas and have students add to it as well.  And then pull those ideas into a coherent “whole” that allows you to tell the story of your library through your physical design of the space.

The slides below have some ideas to get you started.  Please share some ways you transform your libraries by sharing photos or brainstorming ideas!  Follow more on my Pinterest and Scoopit pages on design.

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