Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Public Library

Spring is sprung in London and here's the view from my desk. It's my local public library and very civic it looks too.

I wonder what goes on there as the nature of the use of libraries is changing so fast?

The other week I was in the Wellcome Library having a coffee with a client. The client wasn't the Wellcome, we just wanted to meet in a sympathetic space. Whilst I was talking to quite an eminent scholar, perhaps the leading Leonardo da Vinci academic in the country came and sat at the next table with his cup of tea.

All around people were not using this space as a traditional library.

Last week the British Library made the Times:
"The historian Tristram Hunt said that it was a scandal that it was impossible to get a seat after 11am when students were there. Many people travelling from outside London complain that they cannot get to the buidling any earlier. “Students come in to revise rather than to use the books,” he said. “It’s a ‘groovy place’ to meet for a frappuccino. It’s noisy and it’s undermining both the British Library’s function, as books take longer to get, and the scholarly atmosphere.”

Whilst the BL may be suprised, and indeed pleased, to be called groovy it highlights the changing role they, and all major libraries have.

As content has to move to digital, physical spaces can be used for other things and become expressions of what our commercial friends would call "the brand".

For those who love old school libraries though, I recommend a look here.

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