Library services are changing quickly. Advances in technology are affecting the ways people want to connect to information and culture. The shift of emphasis to online resources over hardcopies, the growth of mobile technologies and changing models of studying and learning are pushing libraries to provide a memorable patron experience. In order to stay relevant, libraries must embrace technology, be future thinking and excite and inspire their visitors.
As a result, libraries are offering more innovative spaces for creating, collaborating, researching, or just relaxing quietly. Library design is taking cues from display areas in popular book stores – from technology retail design like Apple stores, media labs and interactive museum design.
But since the role of the library 20 years from now is still a mystery, flexibility in a library’s physical design is crucial. What is stack area today may need to be something else entirely in the not-too-distant future. A library’s plan must plan to change.
In response to the evolving nature of libraries and services they provide, King County Library System has developed a new custom shelving system. We think it is an innovative product that addresses many of these new needs in a simple, flexible, well-designed way.
The system breaks down into 3 foot modules that can be interchanged and reconfigured easily. Browsing bins for media, racks for periodicals, traditional book shelving, wired panels for flat screen displays, all can be interspersed with comfortable ottoman-like seating. How often have you been in a long row of shelving in a library and just wanted to sit for a moment comfortably and check out an item you’ve found? I often see patrons resorting to sitting on the floor or grabbing a nearby footstool in desperation to take a break. This new product elegantly addresses this common need.
Visually, the colorful seating can be used to break up the long rows of monotonous stacks and create interesting spaces. Lighting is integrated into the system adding to its flexibility. When you move the shelf, the light comes with it.
THA is currently working with KCLS on the new Renton Highlands Library (pictured at top of this post) that will utilize this system – and we are excited about integrating it into the building’s design.