Beautiful University Libraries and Thinking about Space

So, this lovely series of photos from stumbleupon shows a lot of university library reading rooms, primarily from old, historic libraries such as reading rooms at Oxford, UK, or in historic American universities such as Harvard, or UC Berkeley.

I’m struck by how few people there are in these photographs.  I understand that the photographer was probably more focused on the beauty of the spaces, but it seems to me that the true beauty of a library is in what the space provides in terms of the potential for people to think and work. So, yes, some of these lovely spaces do that.  But we can’t see that in action in these spaces.

We are getting new spaces in Atkins, and I’m curious to see how they facilitate student work on campus, and what kind of work ends up being done.  The new north entrance to Atkins will be more than just a new doorway, there will be a large group study/conference room, and open spaces designed for collaborative work as well.

We’ve got spaces on the ground floor that have experimental furniture in them, and it’s still unclear if students are using the furniture (like this mediascape table) in the way it’s intended.

There are also spaces on the 1st and 2nd floors in particular that are still relatively unconfigured–we haven’t really decided what we want to put in there long-term, so students are arranging those spaces themselves.  I am going to be starting the New Year trying to investigate what students want out of these open spaces–what kinds of things are they trying to do, what kinds of things are they successful in doing, and what informs that success?

Finals are nearly over–where are you doing your best work in the Library?  What do you wish these new spaces to do for you?

1 thought on “Beautiful University Libraries and Thinking about Space

Comments are closed.