Hatfield Library Architecture
Our library was given permission to consult with the architect who is developing a campus building strategy. The Hatfield Library is slated for an addition/renovation several years down the road, but it was fun to see what the campus could look like 20-30 years down the road. The current renovation that we’re considering is completely different, and is fairly small in scope, focusing on the first floor of the building.
However, during the architects’ discussion with our space planning committee, and I learned a lot of design ideas and philosophies, as well as some history about the library. Many of the comments stemmed from problems we’ve had with the building or recent modifications. The original design of the building was much larger, and configured differently than what was actually built. The reason why the library was not built to the full scale was that there wasn’t enough money, so the architect went with “plan B,” a smaller scale of the building.
After listening to our problems, we walked around the building and the the architects asked many questions (e.g. how spaces & furniture were used), looking at sight lines, and taking many pictures. The main theme they heard from us was that we want to become more social were people want to congregate. They also heard that we want to improve sight lines, create intuitive service & collection zones within the building (see previous post), the need for mobile furniture and power outlets within reach, more group work areas for students, and an improved entrance area. Specifically, the circulation area could be increased in size, a new reference desk in a different location (with a desk that accounts for patrons sitting next to the librarian instead of having a desk barrier in between), betters signage & carpets that lead folks to areas within the library, etc.
The architects emphasized the entrance area as being very important because it sets the tone for anyone’s experience within the library. Place a desk right inside the entrance with a person to great you instead of big clunky computer terminals that hide people. Create open spaces that penetrate into the library, and lets you see within the library from the entrance. This can be done in our case by some collections, and moving some furniture.
Zones can be created by using different lighting fixtures. One option is to convert existing florescent lighting into another form of lighting. In our case, the straight rows of florescent lights provide great lighting, but are too bright and offer no variation. Maybe place film or reflective surfaces that softens the light in study areas, and decorative track lighting for group study areas. Add some flat screen monitors to group study rooms for practice presentations.
I also learned that films over windows are good alternatives to using traditional shades, and the films could go directly on the windows with printed pictures or words that could be viewed from outside. Instead of using same wood and white coloring scheme, add more color to carpet to guide people to collections, use translucent stack ends to let light through & give a contemporary feel (also put film over the stack ends with famous quotes), use rock deco around the boring white pillars at the entrance, make a rock surface at the circ desk that looks like nature scene at hotel lobby. Instead of having quiet floors, have quiet areas (e.g. North end of library is quiet & south side is noisy.