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The Revolution at Your Community Library | New Republic
"Now that a digital copy of the Library of Congress’s entire book collection could fit in a single shoebox, the future of the contemporary library is up for grabs. The New York Public Library’s proposed reconfiguration of its Manhattan headquarters is only the most recent high-visibility entrant in a debate that has been ongoing since the mid-1990s, manifested in the press and in a series of large urban central library projects in Berlin, Singapore, Seattle, and elsewhere. What should a contemporary library be? 1 Seattle is one oft-cited exemplar: there Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture jettisoned the reading rooms, study carrels, and hushed whispers of the traditional library in favor of a dramatic multi-story “living room” where patrons could, according to the architects, “eat, yell, or play chess.” But to find architects, librarians, and municipalities who have re-conceptualized the contemporary public library with a more nuanced and promising vision, we must turn our attentions away from noisy Seattle and other large projects toward the modest community library.

Around the globe, a handful of innovative architects are forging a new building type with a deceptively familiar name. These libraries offer something found nowhere else in the contemporary city: heavily used, not-for-profit communal spaces that facilitate many and various kinds of informal social interactions and private uses. Ranging in size from five thousand square feet, a smallish McMansion in Westchester, to thirty thousand square feet, the size of Derek Jeter’s home near Tampa, some of these community libraries are neighborhood branches of an urban library system, and others stand alone. These buildings look nothing like one another, yet they all offer exemplary moments of architectural innovation. Collectively, they make the case that excellent design is no luxury, certainly not for the civic buildings and lives of people and their communities."



"No wonder that, around the world, the construction of new small community libraries has spurred an impressive efflorescence of architectural innovation. People have wearied of bowling alone. Individuals need places where they can engage with others like and unlike them, with whom they share an affiliation just by virtue of inhabiting a particular city, town, or neighborhood. Groups of people need places that can help constitute them into and symbolically represent their community. Everyone needs what the urban sociologist Ray Oldenberg calls third places—the first is home, the second is school or workplace.2 That is what these new community libraries provide.

THE FUTURE OF THE LIBRARY IS UP FOR GRABS.

This creates an engagingly complex architectural challenge, as the community library presents many competing mandates that are difficult to resolve in built form. To become a lively centrifugal social force that can buttress or, in more troubled areas, constitute a neighborhood’s sense of identity, it must project the impression that it is a civic icon and a public place. And yet it must also offer people opportunities to engage in solitary pursuits. Today’s community library might well be a place where one can eat and play chess, but it must not be a place to yell; it must still offer private moments in communal places, moments saturated in silence, light, the knowledge and the creativity of human expression. And all on a tight budget.

How to distill such competing if not colliding imperatives—public, private; iconic, domestic; distinctive, local—into a coherent design? Even though technically all that a community library actually needs is enclosed, climate-controlled loft spaces, in fact it needs more. Only good design can make a mute, inert edifice convey to people that it embraces all comers and embodies their community’s shared identity. Many of the new library designs are loft-like spaces writ monumental, but they are much more than warehouses for computers, books, and people. Monumentalizing domesticity by design, they take their cues from the needs of people in general and community library patrons in particular: the neighborhood’s scale, the proportions of the human body, people’s innate receptivity to natural light, their tactile sensitivity and associative responsiveness to materials."
2014  libraries  seattle  bellevue  washingtonstate  oma  remkoolhaas  joshuaprince-ramus  washingtondc  community  architecture  norway  samfrancisco  louiskahn  mvrdv  rotterdam  nyc  nypubliclibrary  davidadjaye  thirdplaces  thumbisland  nypl  dc 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Student Research and Development [StudentRND]
"…student-run non-profit organization that aims to inspire students to learn more about science & technology by offering hands-on opportunities for students to explore beyond & experiment w/ concepts that were so laboriously covered in school textbooks.

Why? When learning how to ride a bike, the majority of people learned by trying over and over again until the skill has been mastered, not by reading a textbook, listening to a lecture, or watching an educational video. Thus, when learning about science & technology, students should be actually applying the knowledge they learn and asking more questions. Science is about inquiry.

…Much like there are libraries for people interested in reading, & sports fields for those interested in sports, we run a workspace in Bellevue where students can learn from our volunteers and classes as well as working on many cool projects…workspace is absolutely free…"
seattle  bellevue  washingtonstate  cascadia  lcproject  science  technology  learning  hackerspaces  education  inquiry  experimentation  laboratories  studentrnd  tcsnmy 
september 2011 by robertogreco

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