At California’s Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD), we have discovered that 48 percent of patrons prefer finding information themselves rather than asking staff members for help. This led us to examine our user experience of signage, particularly for computer use. We wanted to place signage in the exact place where patrons need help and ensure it was meaningful in guiding them in their independent use of the library.
How New Orleans libraries became a blueprint for the city’s reconstruction
By Mary Kenney
This article is an excerpt from New Orleans: Structure, Community, City. Find it at the Greenbuild Bookstore or contact Jen Illescas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Orleans was underwater. Up to 15 feet of it filled some neighborhoods, and 80 percent of the city was flooded. Damage from Hurricane Katrina was extensive, and when it came time to rebuild, it was hard to find a place to start. The problem of reconstruction became a catch-22: should residents wait for businesses and services to return before they did? But how could the city attract those things without people to use them? In the end, it was a public good, not a private one, that took first priority. The city rallied around its libraries as one of the first major reconstruction projects throughout the landscape.
Of the 14 libraries in the New Orleans public system, five were either destroyed or left uninhabitable after the floodwaters receded. Libraries became a priority through the “New Orleans Principles,” a set of guidelines developed by local and national experts convened by the USGBC that called for resilient and sustainable building and the reconstruction of “places of refuge” as a means for creating a better city post-Katrina.
At LJ's Design Institute: Salt Lake City, attendees in interactive brainstorming breakout sessions addressed design challenges posed by real life libraries in Texas, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.
Facing declining visitors and uncertainty about what to do about it, library administrators in the new town of Almere in the Netherlands did something extraordinary. They redesigned their libraries based on the changing needs and desires of library users and, in 2010, opened the Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library), a thriving community hub that looks more like a bookstore than a library.
Makerspaces are a big trend in libraries right now. That’s a good thing because they do offer new ways of supporting critical 21st century skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, design thinking).