E.T.S.A.B. (Oliver Bayliss)

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    Libraries!....dying breed or cultural necessity?

    By Oliver Bayliss
    Feb 15, '06 2:13 PM EST

    So, my project for the second semester is asking for a new library in Reus, a quaint satellite town an hour or so south of Barcelona where, as it turns out, Gaudi was born. My initial reaction was then how to approach such a project. In an age where the humble book is a slow and cumbersome way of gathering information, are libraries actually needed anymore?

    In some respect the traditional idea of a library may be thought of as becoming extinct, however a fresh new batch of libraries seem to be springing up all over the place. More so then ever, towns or cities seem to crave the presence of a place that acts as a cultural point of reference and in that way maybe the idea of a library has changed? They are no longer thought of as a place of quiet concentration where books are the overriding theme but are now places where people go not to just to read. They go to meet others, listen to music, read the papers and have a coffee. So has the conventional idea of the library changed? Do they now act more as points of social interaction rather then a place to research? Your thoughts please!!


    • strlt_typ

      libraries might be changing to incorporate those things you have described but in my stance would be that they should remain traditional...I might be making my next statement sound simplistic but there are other places where you can listen to music, read the papers and drink coffee...a library should be serious.

      Feb 15, 06 2:37 pm

      I think libraries can -and must- incorporate whatever new technological research facilities appear with time -internet, etc-, but the task of concentrating to read, work, do research, etc, still needs a certain kind of silent atmosphere.. The new libraries in Barcelona seem to go to the specialization field, they tend to focus on certain areas of knowledge and depending of which direction they take -and what kind of public will attract- the formalization becomes one or another.. check out Pep Llinàs' municipal library Vila de Gràcia (architecturally superb),... its a social -popular- library for all ages.. not that you can go there and have a beer next to the people who are studying and reading, but some spaces, even those of transition -like the staircase-, are somewhat adapted to create small areas both for reading or relaxing (more than socializing)

      I found once a video of Llinàs showing the library to Kazuyo Sejima in a personal tour but I can't find the link...

      Feb 15, 06 4:34 pm

      the library is certainly in transition, but that's been the case for a decade or longer. I agree that the traditional function of a library must be honored, but the interesting part of the design problem is how to maintain the integrity of the library as a library, while infusing it with these other aspects of community.

      The NYC public school system's L!brary project would be interesting to look into, as well as recent library remixes such as OMA's in Seattle.

      keep us posted.

      Feb 15, 06 4:51 pm
      Heather Ring

      the chronicle of higher ed did a series on the library as place, and asked just this question. might be helpful ...

      Feb 15, 06 7:00 pm

      "Books should not be hidden...knowledge is not in the books. It is in the act of reading."
      Enric Miralles

      Do you know Miralles' library in Palafolls?
      I think it is near Barcelona too.
      I don't know if it's already finished, there are some construction photo's in el croquis nr. 100/101

      Feb 15, 06 9:12 pm

      interesting topic.

      a very talented classmate tried something different with his library design for his march thesis project

      he was also exploring mediation between reality and virtual worlds as part of the project, creating some rather amazing experiments that led to well-earned awards and recognition. the green blobby model on the mobile screen can be viewed superimposed over the physical model live and from any angle...

      way too cool for school.

      Feb 16, 06 12:30 am

      Wow. That thesis project is very cool. Very very cool.

      Feb 16, 06 6:16 pm

      not bad for a canadian prairie archi-school, eh?

      Feb 17, 06 1:37 am
      Christopher Daniel

      The other day I found myself in the area of the British Library (the new one) and thought I should go have a look around. It's a really horrible building from the outside and not much better from the inside. However there is just... SOMETHING about it.

      It's the books, I think. the history and the reverence that the readers there have for them. Obviously the British Library is not a regular library, but I think there is something special about every library. No matter what technologies and information delivery mechanisms we invent, I think there will always be a place for a collection of words permenantly marked on a tangible object that can be quickly scanned, carried around and OWNED, whether by us or by someone else. How much more does it mean to have a friend lend us a book rather than send us a PDF? It's like the difference between a hand-written letter and an e-mail. I think that difference will always be there, much like the difference between a hand-written and a typed document still exists.

      Anyway. I'm not sure what my point is. I guess I think that, as dammson says above, there are other places where people can go to meet, drink coffee and listen to music. Starbucks springs to mind (although the music is shit). Yes, new tech should be part of the lirbary facility, but you need to hold on to the purpose of the building: it's a place to visit to find new information, whether it's something you need to know, something you want to know or just anything that catches your eye.

      Right. Well. I hope that makes sense. I guess I'm trying to get myself used to being on archinect again. It's been a while. I need to re-start my blog, I think.

      Feb 24, 06 5:36 pm

      wow! that technology looks pretty groovy jump - tell me the guy didn't build it himself ;-)

      Mar 6, 06 3:35 pm

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