I recently came across a fantastic Pinterest board with library design ideas assembled ten years ago by the Inver Hills Community College Library as they planned a remodel. Wouldn’t it be inspiring, I thought, to create an updated version of this?
Next year, my library building celebrates its 30th anniversary. From the outside, it still looks contemporary and appealing. This plot of land has come a long way since it was home to a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant!
Much has changed, though, since the library was built in 1993. The year of our grand opening, a student might have walked out the door of our sparkling new edifice with a backpack full of books, a ream of photocopies, or a stack of printed articles accessed via CD-ROM databases. Today, students can access sources and get online research assistance without ever setting foot in the building, but the many who do come in expect a robust WiFi connection, power for their devices, easy access to help, and spaces for both quiet study and group work. (Yes, and books, too.)
How has our building kept up with the times? Some areas have been successfully repurposed over the years. For example, the Periodicals room gave way to our “Research Zone” computer lab. The copy room is no more – in fact, our photocopiers have all made way for book scanners and networked printers. We have plenty of computers for students, the WiFi is generally stable, and we’ve installed a phone locker that sanitizes devices with ultraviolet light while they’re charging.
However, our wish list is growing. We need more outlets throughout the building to accommodate students’ needs, but that wasn’t foreseen in 1993, and we’d have to dig into the concrete floor to run more power. Shelving that once housed a massive and aging reference collection and a wide range of print periodicals now begs to make way for collaborative space for students, but the only lighting in that area was built directly into the top of the shelving itself. Oops.
Our faithful Reference Desk is an island set apart from the imposingly large Circulation Desk – the pinnacle of 1993 library services planning. We’d love to see a combined services desk giving us more flexibility, and students less consternation. Now we’re talking demolition and construction.
We librarians are a scrappy bunch, and we’re always dreaming/devising/proposing ways to update our 30-year old building. When infrastructure isn’t adequate, we find a workaround when we can. But the wish list, it keeps growing. And planning is made even more challenging as we wonder whether pandemic-era changes have made a lasting impact on library use.
How old is your library building? Has it kept up with changes in use? What were the best changes made over the years, and what do you want or wonder about for the future? Maybe you’ll stir a colleague reading from across the miles to propose something new. May today’s Friday Finds lead us to find some inspiration!