Library as space?
Library is both a space and a place. The difference between space and place is the same as in the difference between house and home. Space may be described in terms of dimension, shape etc. Nevertheless, place is appropriated by each human being through a personal experience that occurs both at physical and spiritual level. In the last decades, the importance of libraries as socialization spaces has grown. As stubbornly pointed, a library must play the role of community centre.
Robert Coravu, LIBRARY SPACES: NEW VALUES, NEW FUNCTIONS
Times have changed; standards of living have improved, along with education, health and leisure opportunities; and the majority of citizens now require a public library service that reﬂects societal shifts and technological advances.
(Book: Better Public Libraries)
The relationship between the library and the home is changing, as more library catalogues go online, enabling people to order, reserve or renew library stock, and even belong to electronic newsgroups established by libraries for particular educational or cultural interest groups. As a result the library is being de-institutionalized, and becoming more like a club or leisure centre. Interior design and furnishing can help create a more domestic, club-like sense of membership and belonging: a home from home. Today’s library services may be offered in buildings alongside other public services, sometimes in unusual and intriguing combinations. Libraries may well incorporate computer training suites, advice centres, careers services, cafes, toy libraries and homework centres.
Book: 21st Century Libraries: Changing Forms, Changing Futures, 2004
The notion of libraries as community living rooms signifies a departure from the function and atmosphere of libraries of the past. Floor space, once dominated by the collection, is gradually being converted to living spaces and social hubs – comfortable areas to relax and socialize. Like public squares and street cafes, a modern public library provides a place which puts users at ease, a place of mutual respect for people to meet and pass time, in addition to its core information services. A living room library caters for a broad spectrum of user preferences, including spaces to ‘chill out’, drop in, plug in, login, meet up, read a magazine, listen to music, buy a coffee or even watch TV. Users are offered a choice of many different activities in the same space – working, eating, talking and browsing. In addition, there is a variety of different spaces on offer – quiet contemplative nooks, places by the window, or seats near bustling thoroughfares. Libraries act as an extension of people’s recreational time. People may stay for much longer periods and therefore seek the amenity that longer stays require. A library might promote a multicultural festival by holding bilingual story time sessions, cultural book exchanges or themed author talks. Alternate programs include promoting youth culture by hosting regular band nights or, assisting teenage mothers with homework sessions along with early literacy programs for their children.
(Book: PEOPLE PLACES: A GUIDE FOR PUBLIC LIBRARY BUILDINGS IN NEW SOUTH WALE).