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Library Design Showcase 2012

As the transformation of libraries continues, it follows that the physical structure would have to transform as well to support changes in services, missions, and audiences. The Library Design Showcase highlights the best in new and newly renovated library buildings, divided into sections that focus on one architectural aspect.

Library Design Showcase 2012

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Technology Enabled: Teens have been heavy users of the Blair Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas, since it opened in 2004, and have long needed more computers and space. An expansion created a new space, dubbed the Otwell Teen Library, with Wi-Fi, two 37-inch digital signs for teen event info, a tech center with 25 computers, 3 collaborative workstations, and a gaming center. Much of the construction material is recycled, including countertops made from shredded milk jugs & laundry bottles.

Technology Enabled: The renovation and expansion of Santana High School’s library in Santee, California, remedied a serious lack of computers: a 30-computer lab couldn’t accommodate the average class of 35–40 students, and a domed skylight in the space echoed noise, making the lab uncomfortably loud. The new glass-enclosed computer lab has an LCD projector, screens, and outlets to allow students or teachers to make presentations, and a separate computer bar serves walk-in students.

Technology Enabled: The renovation of the fourth and fifth floors of Bobst Library at New York University into a Graduate Research Commons created a space tailored for digitally equipped users that will serve as a template for future phases of the library’s renovation. The commons includes a digital studio with powerful software for audiovisual projects, and a Data Services Studio with equipment focused on geographic information system data and mapping.

Technology Enabled: Plasma screens throughout the England Run branch library in Fredericksburg, Virginia, display program details and other library information. Walk-up computers serve customers who need to quickly check email or the library catalog, while the library also offers other computers for more involved work, as well as Wi-Fi.

Technology Enabled: Reconfiguration of the San Diego County Library’s San Marcos branch’s circulation area, which consolidated circulation and reference into one service point, allowed the library to create a self-service area without expanding the library building. This space includes RFID self-check-out machines, printers and copiers, and a request pickup area. Improved wireless access and a dedicated laptop bar in the teen space serve computer users, as does a new glass-enclosed computer lab.

Technology Enabled: The renovation of the 1939 Petworth Neighborhood Library in D.C. thoroughly modernized the space, eliminating partition walls and upgrading the building’s mechanical and electrical systems. Also upgraded was the library’s internet connection. Nods to tradition include the restoration of original oak woodwork and the creation of a cupola and exterior balustrade, which were planned for the original construction but never built until now.

Technology Enabled: The renovation of the Evander Childs High School Campus Library Media Center (Bronx, N.Y.) included custom computer pods and computer stations. An Information Hub was designed to create a focal point for user assistance. The project restored a hidden and forgotten skylight, while blending technology and contemporary elements into a historically sensitive environment with murals and original casework.

Technology Enabled: Middle Country Public Library’s (Centereach, N.Y.) renovated teen space, dubbed The Underground for its physical location in the library, has a multipurpose computer area with both Macs and PCs. A separate media counter offers charging stations for laptops and cellphones.

Technology Enabled: The renovation of NC State's D. H. Hill Library in Raleigh created spaces with extensive power outlets to support students with laptops. The outdoor terrace has seating for 54 with power outlets around the entire space, including in the railing. The silent reading room seats 70 and has outlets in floorboxes and the exterior glass wall. A technology sandbox area offers access to large-scale display and gesture-based computing tools.

Technology Enabled: The North Branch Library in the Terrebonne Parish Library System in Houma, Louisiana, boasts 36 public computers, as well as a lab with 12 more workstations for computer classes. Two meeting rooms each have LCD projectors and screens, as well as internet capability. Wireless is available throughout the facility, including in meeting rooms and on two reading decks, and some of the seating options are specially designed to incorporate laptops.

Technology Enabled: The University of Akron’s Bierce Library’s renovation is intended to create a contemporary learning commons that facilitates interaction between students and staff and provides easier access to information through the use of technology. An emerging technology lab houses hands-on exhibitions of the latest technology, while the technology-enhanced formal learning studio supports problem-based learning and multimodal instruction.

The Outdoor Library: The Parman Branch is located in a rapidly growing and previously underserved section of San Antonio. The 10-acre site includes a walking trail, outdoor amphitheater, and a Rotary-funded playground. The building features optimized solar orientation and shading screens to minimize heat gain, high-performance glazing and translucent panels that maximize the use of natural light, and water-conserving fixtures.

The Outdoor Library: The renovation and expansion of Anythink Perl Mack in Denver, Colorado, created a front porch and transformed an adjacent empty lot into a community garden. The library is heated and cooled by geothermal exchange wells under the parking lot, and the existing roof was updated to support a future solar photovoltaic array.

The Outdoor Library: The new Dubois Library in Dubois County, Indiana, includes two reading patios for use during warm weather months. Other library features include a children’s area, genealogy room, meeting space, and computer area, an especially important amenity in a locality where most households do not have access to high-speed internet.

The Outdoor Library: The Garfield Park Branch in Indianapolis is located adjacent to one of the city’s parks. The library itself encourages alternative transportation with a new bike rack and electric vehicle charging stations. It also includes a storytelling garden of native plants with a gathering circle made of pervious paving, rain barrels, and a composting area.

The Outdoor Library: The original construction plan for the Julia Ideson Library in Houston included a south wing and rear garden, but those elements were stripped out due to the economic realities of the Great Depression. A three-year, two-phase renovation brought the original plan to fruition. The project also re-landscaped the front plaza while preserving its stately bur oaks and encircled it with a new iron fence.

The Outdoor Library: The Ferdinand Library in Dubois County, Indiana, serves as an after-school hub for four area schools. Outside the children’s books and activity room is a reading patio. Construction incorporated a geothermal HVAC system, controllable lighting, construction-waste management, and low-VOC-emitting finishes.

The Outdoor Library: The children’s area at the new Prince George Branch Library in Virginia includes a circular storytime area formed by the inside of an interpreted silo. Immediately outside the silo is a performance space with stepped seating designed to give flexibility to library events and promote outside-time for kids. Glass walls in the library’s café offer views of an adjacent public park and abundant natural light.

The Outdoor Library: Old blueprints revealed that the Georgetown Neighborhood Library originally had a reading terrace on the rear of the building, which had been removed. The renovation of the building, after severe damage from a 2007 fire, restored that feature, opening up views of the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C. and serving as a venue for storytimes during nice weather.

The Outdoor Library: The new Rita and Truett Smith Central Public Library in Wylie, Texas, features both a large courtyard and a back porch where patrons can relax. Inside, a clerestory spine allows light to permeate the facility while delineating the various library zones.

The Outdoor Library: The Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library in San Diego County serves a densely developed coastal community, so it didn’t have much room to expand. Most of the 25% increase in usable space came from creating flexible spaces, such as the community room with collapsible walls that can accommodate large after-hours crowds. The library also put effort into the exterior, creating a patio with a laptop bar and demo garden of drought-tolerant plants.

The Outdoor Library: The new Fallbrook Branch in San Diego County boasts an outdoor reading garden sheltered by a space-framed trellis that emulates the movement of pages turning in a book. A separate, 500-square-foot Poets’ Patio also provides outdoor seating where patrons can use library materials and Wi-Fi, and it connects to the building with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that can be opened to expand the library’s capacity to host events.

The Outdoor Library: Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas, has glass walls that capture scenic views and shade from live oak trees. A terrace and covered patios offer space for outdoor programming, while the conference room has a private balcony. The library provides bike racks, changing rooms, and preferred parking spaces to encourage alternate forms of transportation, and it harvests rain water and reuses HVAC condensate for landscape irrigation.

The Outdoor Library: The addition to the University of California at Berkeley’s law library included a rooftop garden above a three-story structure. Two of those stories are underground, but skylights direct natural light down to them from the plaza level. The project also created a new west-facing terrace that connects to an existing plaza that serves as a key campus meeting point.

  • Alaina Culbertson
    Alaina Culbertson

    I hope SLU law's new rooftop terrace looks like this!

The Outdoor Library: Rifle Branch patrons at the Garfield County (Colo.) Public Library can take advantage of a pair of reader’s gardens on the first floor, as well as a terrace adjacent to the second-floor meeting room. Plenty of windows offer views of the area’s mountain vistas. A 53-kWh solar array supplies 35–40% of the building’s electrical needs. The building also incorporates a 107-year-old stained-glass window, rescued from a church that was demolished in the 1970s.