There is a widely held perception that British public libraries are in decline and that the proliferation of online services and continuing financial pressures are proving too much. Similarly, people think that new library buildings are rarer than giant pandas. Neither is in fact the case.
Media coverage over recent years has focused on closures and falling loan figures. Positives like the growth of virtual libraries and the diversification of physical services into new and exciting areas, such as computer coding, Lego clubs and high-tech Makerspaces seem to be less newsworthy. Big building projects in major conurbations tend to get plenty of media coverage but local library developments fail to attract the same attention.
It is frustrating to read and hear that public libraries have perhaps ‘had their day’ when the sector is vibrant. UK libraries receive 250.8 million visits a year, more than all cinemas, night clubs and professional sporting events. Continue reading →
The inaugural Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Design Awards were presented in June 2017 at a one-day seminar celebrating Australian library design held at The Library at the Dock in Melbourne. The awards showcased the excellence of contemporary Australian libraries and paved the way for future reimagining of libraries. This posting describes the awards process, portrays some striking features of the buildings, demonstrates superb teamwork of librarians, architects, designers, planners and funding agencies in building new libraries and refurbishing old ones, and hopefully inspires and informs others.
The awards. Handmade frosted vases by Brian Carr of Canberra Glassworks
Universal Design (UD) refers to design which seeks to make buildings and environments available for use by everyone in society regardless of age, size, ability, disability or need. Accessibility is not an additional component but integral to UD thinking. UD takes a holistic approach, enhancing access for all without lowering standards. Many libraries and educational institutions use a more specific concept, Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Seven Principles of Universal Design
Anne-Marie Womack notes on her blog Writing Rhetorics that there are seven principles of UD: Equitable, Flexibility, Simple and Intuitive, Perception Information, Tolerance for error, Low physical effort, and Size and space.
The fitting out of libraries involves many different actors: planners, librarians, architects, engineers, interior designers and builders. Each person involved has a common goal. Each wants to ensure that the completed building is architecturally interesting, welcoming, aesthetically pleasing and able to provide an excellent library service. However, there is one aspect that is frequently not properly resolved and which tends to get worse over time: the wiring.
This posting addresses the problem of wiring in libraries. There are many devices in today’s libraries which need to be connected to electrical power. Making the appropriate choice and ensuring the most effective layout of electrical equipment, cabling, switches, connecting cords, plugs, power points and panels is vital to achieve effective service delivery. In the first part of this posting, there are photographs showing how the wiring issue is tackled in most libraries. An effective method of planning the wiring project is then presented, recommendations and solutions to wiring problems are outlined and photographs of best practice provided. Continue reading →