One of the best sessions that I attended at PLA was called 21st Century Library Design. It was presented by Kim Bolan, Pam Vander Poeg and Cathy Hakala Ausperk.
Kim Boland is a library design consultant and author of Teen Spaces. She promised to post the images from the presentation on her blog soon after her wedding (which was Sat.-Congrats!).
Why is 21st Century Library Design important? Our population is changing. There are increasing numbers of baby-boomers using libraries, as well as increasing numbers of teens. Libraries are also the last free public space. So what is 21st Century Library Design? It is design that enables services that make the library a community space (the third place); it is built around the customer; it is comfortable, multi-functional and adaptable; and use by the community makes it successful. Specifically, the design should have a comfortable space, meeting rooms for group and quiet study, supported service (self-checkout, more interaction, portable service points, food service, drive up book-drops, etc), multi-functional children's spaces, a separate teen space, retail oriented merchandising, technology that is unobtrusive and promotes interaction, good way-finding (understandable signage!), and sustainable healthy environments.
Pam Vander Poeg is the Assistant Director of Kent District Library in Michigan. They have a system wide initiative to peer review or mystery shop at each of the branches. This initiative is grant funded and each library has a friends group that matches the grant amount. They are focusing on 4 areas of library design including Early Literacy, Teen Space, making it easy to find, and the Library Living Room. Early Literacy spaces should be playful and interactive, making the library a place of fun and learning. The Teen Space should have varied seating, snacks, computers and input from teens. The Library Living Room should be a cozy place with comfy furniture, books, reading lamps, art, plants and a view or a fireplace. Each of the branches was provided with a materials directory with suggested items, prices, and vendor information so the research didn't have to be done more than once.
Cathy Hakala Ausperk is the Deputy Director of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library in Ohio. They renovated the largest library and here are some of the innovations that I found to be exciting: They had artistic signage that was integrated into murals, moveable displays, roving reference, self service that includes pick-up lockers for holds, help phones, office supply vending, and healthy food vending.