from reference to resource – the evolving library
The nostalgic image of the library, with book-lined shelves filled with page-turning references to entertain and train the brain, is shifting. As e-media and collaborative applications have come to the marketplace, the library is taking on more of a social, interactive function. This new utilization of resources is challenging stakeholders to look at how the library fits in modern culture while fulfilling its traditional role as a resource. Hargis has served these civic spaces and offers a perspective on environmental elements that enhance the user-occupant experience.
City of Seattle “Libraries for All” Program
As one of the most comprehensive initiatives of its time, Seattle set out the create equity across its enterprise over a 10-year period. As stand-alone and co-located tenant improvements, Hargis served four renovation and expansion efforts that enhanced the city’s ability to serve their growing communities’ access to physical and electronic resources.
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Reflection in Public Education Spaces
The evolution of the library and role of the librarian is taking shape in the influential environment of public education spaces. Northshore School District has adopted a new model with the fourth new high school in its portfolio: Northcreek. The two-story center features unmonitored bookshelves inside and outside the library walls filled with books that promote reading. Reference material is accessible through the media center the librarian serving as an educational resource to discern fact from fiction as students utilize these resources, no longer managing a check-in/check-out counter.
shifts in programming & design
The volume of resources offered through the library creates a need for asset management and tracking. The evolution from the ‘library check-out’ card to the spreadsheet and finally the scanner has streamlined this process, creating efficiencies in material handling.
In addition to the free reference material available through the library is the various configurations of multipurpose and meeting room spaces. Within a certain threshold, these spaces can be scheduled with various levels of technology support.
Technology has been a direct contributor to the evolution in the resources the library offers. Extensive wireless and enriched audio visual systems allow for high-speed connectivity to mobile devices that have enhanced flexibility, connectivity and collaboration options in the physical space, while robust WAN/LAN provide the bandwidth for media-intensive applications.
Leveraging their investment in technology civic leaders are extending resources offered through the physical space to the virtual. Access to new e-media and online resources is being delivered to patrons’ homes and mobile devices outside the confines of the physical structure of the library.
Underfloor cellular raceways and floor boxes for power and data provide patrons with convenient options for accessing resources and charging personal equipment while enabling the library to easily rearrange furniture and shelving without rewiring.