Commercial Architecture March 2016 - (Page 5)
Libraries Are Changing, Sort Of
nlike senior editor Ken Betz, visiting libraries is just not my
thing. I love to read and do so all of the time, but never became a fan of the local book buildings. I'm sure a lot of my
aversion goes back to my college days when my library time was usually
limited to fi nals week. I was in the science program so when others were
researching Crimean War battle etiquette, I was in labs spilling chemicals or dissecting animals.
After school, I made a significant effort to use the local public library because of my love for reading. I also had a long commute for a while and listened to a lot of audio books, a service they were in the early stages of providing. My association with the local book barn faded because the book gestapos
who greeted me each time seemed highly offended that I would even consider touching one of their dewey-decimaled (I made that word up) publications.
I generally have no trouble staying out of places where I'm not wanted.
Ken, on the other hand, is the gym rat of libraries. I have to say I envy him
because his local keeper of the card catalogs (Do they even use those any-
At my library, book stacks still dominate and you're on your own for book checkout.
Still present is the card-catalog furniture. I didn't check to see if the drawers had cards
in them or if the chest was simply there to hold up the FLOTUS display.
more?) is a gorgeous building with beautiful sitting areas and meeting rooms
and ample access to technology. We had a meeting in his library not too long
ago and the experience made me want to go back.
My aversion aside, I'm fascinated by the transformation libraries have had to endure/embrace. I
would suggest that few institutions have been challenged quite like libraries by the rapid movement
from encyclopedias to online research. Since almost all of them rely on limited tax dollars for survival, I'm confident virtually all of them have had that painful change-or-die meeting at some point in
the past 15 years.
All of this is what precipitated Ken's cover story for this issue ("Thriving on Change," p. 8). We
wanted to know how architects have helped libraries handle the left turn that every one of them has
faced. It's a most interesting read. If you've had to design/build/remodel a library, you'll relate. If a
library design hasn't crossed your desk, the article will give you some food for thought, should that
For me, a discussion Ken and I had about libraries after I read his article prompted me to drive
across town and visit the gestapos at my local library. I wasn't all that interested in seeing the desk
sergeant again, but wanted to see if the library was still a collection of bookshelves and study carrels
or if they have responded to the change-or-die ultimatum.
It's been many years since I was in that building, but they obviously had done some kind of remodeling. The remodel eliminated the evil stare as I entered the library because I was greeted, not by
someone who could help me, but by a wall with stainless-steel, automated book-drop units and some
computers for automated book checkout. I guess that's progress. The main library is still dominated
by ominous book stacks, but a large portion was changed to a much more approachable librarian
help/information area and a decent-sized computer area.
Basically, they've changed but mainly to eliminate patron interaction (read "staff reduction").
Commercial Architecture is partnering with
the Geothermal Exchange Organization
(geoexchange.org), Springfield, IL, and
the American Ground Water Trust (agwt.
org), Concord, NH, to increase awareness
of the organizations' series of geothermal
workshops. The next event is the California
Geothermal Workshop, March 31, in
Commerce, CA. For more information, visit
the Events page at agwt.org.
The next time, I think I'll go to Ken's library. They seemed to like me. CA
Gary L. Parr
COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Architecture March 2016
Table of Contents
The Architects: Design For Authenticity
Thriving On Change
Facial Recognition Enhances Museum Experience
Building Technology Products
LEDS Brighten Facility From Front To Back
Lighting & Electrical Products
ACM Panels, Prismatic Finish Focus Community's Attention
Pine Workshop Boosts Fence Building
Water Gets A Boost
HVAC & Plumbing Products
Polished Concrete Provides Solid Footing
Feature Wall Welcomes Travelers
Franklin's Kite Reimagined As Glazed Facade
Renovation Recaptures Original Design
Windows & Doors Products
Commercial Architecture March 2016