Libraries in the Digital Age by Architectural Digest – With the cyberage in full swing, this is how smart design is keeping demand for the printed word alive.
When downtown Seattle’s new public library opened in 2004, it was heralded as a model for the new millennium, fully embracing both the digital era and the spirit of civic ennoblement. And while books—shelved in a four-floor spiral connected by gently sloping ramps—were given pride of place in the design, by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, many assumed that physical tomes would soon go the way of the card catalog and the cassette tape.
More than a decade later, however, demand for the printed word—and its place in libraries—remain strong.
“The idea that everyone will read everything on screens has not proven to be true,” said Meredith TenHoor, an architectural historian and associate professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. “There is a place for old-fashioned paper books. The publishing industry knows this, and it is reflected in high-quality library design, too.”
The most innovative library designs, she added, are those that “don’t just conceive of books as sources of information but of the social and intellectual practices that develop around reading and research.”
Risa Honig, vice president of capital planning at The New York Public Library (NYPL), said that it is actually making “books more of an architectural presences in our branches.” (At the moment, about 20 percent of the NYPL’s overall circulation is e-books.)
She added that at the recently opened 53rd Street and soon-to-be-renovated Mid-Manhattan libraries, “books create the look and feel for the spaces. So they’re not only part of the design, they are a key part.”
What has shifted is that libraries are increasingly tasked with accommodating a multitude of uses, of which book storage and circulation is just one.
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Source: architectural digest