Checking Out
No longer just for books, the library is receiving a modern makeover
Life / 9 Jan 2012
Years ago, electronic data replaced The Dewey Decimal System, and now literature’s shift from the printed page to the tablet has called into question the need for traditional libraries. After momentarily fading out of fashion, libraries around the world are reinventing themselves as modern cultural centers that offer much more than just book borrowing.
Liyuan Library:
Instead of erecting another structure in crowded Beijing, the designers of the recently opened Liyuan Library opted to build near a village two hours outside of the metropolis. With a concept for a serenity-focused public space in mind, they used the mountain landscape as inspiration. The resulting building is constructed from sticks gathered in the village and lets in only natural light, helping the modest structure blend into its surroundings while delivering a soft ambiance. This unusual architectural work provides a meditative environment not only for residents of the village but also for the stressed creative pros of Beijing who need to escape the city to get their juices flowing.
Fab Lab:
One city is rethinking the modern library in a context that’s simultaneously giving a facelift to the idea of the contemporary computer lab. Instead of a reading room, New York state’s Fayetteville Free Library is developing a “hackerspace,” called the Fab Lab. This wired workshop will be equipped with a variety of cutting edge technology tools available for members to use free of charge. In addition to books, Wi-Fi and computers, the Fab Lab will boast state-of-the-art software and machines such as the MakerBot, a CNC Router and a laser cutter so that its patrons will be able to roll up their sleeves to craft, create, and construct as they please.
The Human Library:
At The Human Library, information seekers find answers not in books but rather through people. The idea behind the international project is that the ability to “borrow” someone from the “shelves” provides an unusual opportunity to promote dialogue and break prejudices. The people “on loan” at these transient sites come from all walks of life with an array of empowering experiences to share. Blending cultures, genders and everything in between, Human Library events invoke a “no-nonsense” contribution to social cohesion. Though books aren’t involved, the analogous in-person exchange of stories and knowledge has the power to change lives. Plus, there are no “late” fees.
©The Intelligence Group