Future of libraries: Rooftop playgrounds, skylights and video recording studios? | SierraSun.com

Future of libraries: Rooftop playgrounds, skylights and video recording studios?

Pam McAdoo
Special to the Sun

Once upon a time, libraries were dark, silent places where books lined rows upon rows of shelves, protected from the natural light that fades and ages them.

These repositories for book were constructed with mighty floors to bear the weight of the printed materials they held.

They were dignified and monolithic, weighty buildings that sheltered information, knowledge, and historical archives.

These days, as libraries shapeshift to keep up with the digital age, they are taking on new and different forms.

“The latest in library design includes flexible meeting spaces that can accommodate public meetings and classes of varying sizes, and spaces for video programming and innovative collaborative projects.”

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Books and magazines have moved over to make space for CDs, DVDs, and computers to search the Internet.

They offer more classes and events than ever for people of all ages who are searching for contact with real humans, not just screen contact.

They offer access to expensive equipment such as 3-D printers, video recording equipment and space and materials necessary for experimenting with drones and robots.

How do these new roles for libraries inform the structures that contain them? Libraries these days are flooded with light — softened by filters, screens, and shades to avoid glare — from skylights, light wells and window walls.

In addition to quiet areas where users can settle in with a book, there are separate spaces for more noisy activities where people can network with fellow techies, play video games, or enjoy an energetic kids' program.

The latest in library design includes flexible meeting spaces that can accommodate public meetings and classes of varying sizes, and spaces for video programming and innovative collaborative projects.

What might this look like? Let your mind soar to imagine the possibilities, the way architects have to arrive at striking designs for library buildings the size of a new library which would effectively serve today's Truckee community.

An Internet search will take you to sites for innovative libraries around the globe: Vennesla, Norway's Library and Cultural Center (which The Huffington Post called "The Most Beautiful Library in the World?"); the Francis A. Gregory and Bellevue Neighborhood Libraries in Washington, D.C.; the Ketchikan, Alaska, Public Library; and San José, Calif.'s Seven Trees Branch Library are just a few.

The designs you discover — with features such as vaulted ceilings, rooftop playgrounds, and maker spaces — will show you examples of libraries which look forward rather than back, yet remain the heart and brain of their communities, encouraging social interaction, inspiration, and innovation as well as providing unlimited access for all to history, ideas, and resources.

Pam McAdoo is a board member of the Friends of the Truckee Library. Visit truckeefol.org to learn more.

Editor’s note

This is the sixth in a series of articles exploring the varied ways that public libraries are continuing to reinvent their services and facilities in order to respond to technological innovation and the specific needs and populations of the communities they serve.

Click here to read part one of the series.

Click here to read part two of the series.

Click here to read part three of the series.

Click here to read part four of the series.

Click here to read part five of the series.