Library at San Jose Normal School ca.1904
cc licensed and shared by San Jose Library
The photo above clearly indicates an era that is over 100 hundred years old. The absence of technology certainly stands out, as does the segregation based on gender lines (women sit at women’s tables and men occupy male only tables). However, what does come to attention is the concept of communal tables and shared workspaces. Also evident are the lounges and as an extension the idea of leisure and comfort in a library space. It is relevant that this design occupies the central space of the library and all the books are up against walls in bookshelves behind glass doors. It speaks volumes about perceptions of how we occupy space in a library and how those spaces are utilised.
This communal space of work, reading and communicating reminds me a little of the current ideas around communal spaces to share ideas and work together in groups. However current spaces go a step further as is evident in the idea of an information Commons. In considering contemporary libraries and the impact of technology on change, a shift towards communal space or a reiteration of the importance of social interaction in learning spaces is evident in contemporary design. However, as is apparent from the photos that follow, the focus and integration of technology appears of greatest importance in a library space today. Another interesting feature is the move towards all things digital. The impact of this becomes apparent in the diminishing presence of physical books. See also my post on the dibrary ~ National Library of Korea
Loyola University Information Commons
cc licensed and shared by Michael Stephens
Inside the Information Commons
cc licensed and shared by artq55