In a break from the political opinions (and the crowds go wild!!) I thought I’d reflect on the remodeled Central Branch of the Howard County Library.
I had just finished blogging here one night, when I heard an older patron and an older librarian discussing the new building. To put it mildly, neither was impressed with it. They disapproved of the style, the color, the patterns, the amenities, the staff space. Whew! It did start me thinking of my initial response, and my subsequent perspective on it. And I think I disagree with them.
The library structure hearkens back to the early days of Columbia, and the eclectic architecture of the 60’s and 70’s. In some respects, the color scheme and the style brings that back into focus. The green wall, the exposed brick, the slightly psychedelic carpet that is evocative of the sky in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The exposed wood of the ceiling is certainly a step up in looks, along with the lighting and the better utilization of natural light from the windows (including some I never knew were there)
I do agree that the librarian stations upstairs are a bit small. I suspect this is in part to the librarians now having a portable electronic tether to work with as they move about. Still, it would be nice to have a double seat at the station. And while I love the open space of the computer area, I do wonder how noisy it will be when more people come back (right now it is wonderfully quiet….like a library used to be ❤ ).
What I really wanted to tell the patron and librarian (and didn’t) was — this wasn’t done for you. They, and even me, are not part of the demographic that the system is trying to grab. Libraries will fail if they serve only the post-40 or post-50 or older clientèle. They need to attract the digital natives and the digital explorers. This space is designed to make them welcome, to make them feel like the coffee shop they are used to using to surf the web. And that’s okay from my standpoint. I still want there to be a library. I still want people who are trained in the science and can help me with my research or just give me a different place to ruminate.
And it seems to have opened up just in time for me 🙂