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Sunday 3 June 2012

3 #blogjune

The branch library I work in has three floors:
  • level 1 has the information desk and computers and casual reading area and various other bits and bobs, and the other day someone came to the desk and said, "Can you tell me how to get to the library?" On being told they'd already got there they asked, "But where are all the books?" I think sometimes we can be so worried about making a nice open entrance and about proving we're "more than just books" that we forget that actually a lot of people really like books. (Our level 1 does in fact also have a small high demand collection, a small reference collection, and out of view of the entrance there's mobile stacks full of print journals and such, and also this hardly ranks as our number one complaint. But it's a complaint I've seen/heard about other branches and other libraries throughout the world.)
  • level 2 has about half our books, and bookable discussion rooms, and great big discussion tables, and lots of other desks, and also the science fiction collection in a unique architectural feature that we've dubbed "the playpen" and "the wine bar" and various other nicknames. This floor tends (due to discussion tables) to get very noisy.
  • level 3 has the other half of the books and more study desks. It's half mezzanine, so gets much of level 2's noise, but half is behind some solid doors and is our quiet zone, which can get absolutely packed. Again, we talk a lot about wanting to make libraries happenin', buzzin' places -- and obviously it wouldn't get noisy if there weren't some use to that -- but whenever I've gathered student comments for videos about what they like about the library, one of the most frequent comments is that they love having a quiet space to study.
A few years ago I came across a library that had divided its space up into Red, Yellow, and Green zones -- an intuitive way to make it clear to students how much talking was allowed where, which apparently worked very well. I can't find my old link to it now, but from a quick web search it looks like the idea's caught on widely: here's just one implementation among many.