Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Revolution at Your Local Library

The New Republic takes a look at libraries in our digital age.

From the piece...

Around the globe, a handful of innovative architects are forging a new building type with a deceptively familiar name. These libraries offer something found nowhere else in the contemporary city: heavily used, not-for-profit communal spaces that facilitate many and various kinds of informal social interactions and private uses. Ranging in size from five thousand square feet, a smallish McMansion in Westchester, to thirty thousand square feet, the size of Derek Jeter’s home near Tampa, some of these community libraries are neighborhood branches of an urban library system,  and others stand alone. These buildings look nothing like one another, yet they all offer exemplary moments of architectural innovation. Collectively, they make the case that excellent design is no luxury, certainly not for the civic buildings and lives of people and their communities.

Community libraries have been around for centuries. Andrew Carnegie did not invent them, but recognized in them the means to socialize the cost of knowledge, building nearly 1,700 public libraries across the United States in twenty-eight years. Across the country, local philanthropists built countless others, recognizing that the community library was often the only place to which people had sustained and repeated access simply by virtue of their residence. Even today, to become officially recognized as a borrower at your local library, no more than a recent electric bill is needed—no passport, no green card, no social security number, no purchase necessary. To use the library to sit and read and rest, you need only to want to sit and read and rest.

No comments: