When people think about a library, there’s a tendency to imagine quiet places with row upon row of dusty books.
This couldn’t be further from the new wave of libraries being designed and built across the country.
Libraries are fast becoming sociable and inspiring places to be for everyone – from babies to elderly grandparents.
Experts have long taken note of the effects of environment on education and learning. Increasingly, schools and libraries have taken bold steps to create the type of place where children can learn in an interesting and dynamic fashion whilst feeling comfortable and secure.
The library has become a place where people meet, talk and socialise. It’s no longer somewhere with a severe librarian telling you to hold a stony silence.
In fact more and more, libraries can be seen as the hub of communities as well as a base for arts and creative workers.
With old classrooms described by some experts as ‘cells’, Innovative Learning Environments are the key to helping people of all ages relish the chance to learn and explore education.
Planning Your Space
Resource Furniture can help to create these spaces with the initial step being to help plan. Planning is the absolute key to success here – we need to know as much information about the space and how it’s used. We need to know about:
- the people who use it
- their age and accessibility requirements
- how often they visit
- what services they require
- flow of foot fall in the library
You’ll also want to think about the type of environment you want to create and perhaps consider what you want the library itself to be known for or thought of as.
Obviously there will be more practical considerations such as:
- planning permission
Making Space Work
Whereas traditional learning and study relies very heavily on a group of students listening to a single teacher speaking, innovative learning spaces have broken away from this.
One of the key priorities of any learning space is to consider the element of communication. Interaction between people should be encouraged – whether this is staff and users, or amongst students.
Many critics of open plan spaces raise concerns that they can quickly become noisy and distracting. However Resource Furniture has a wealth of experience in creating designated zones which can blend or separate depending on the need. The concept of a ‘beehive of specialised activity spaces’ gives an excellent indication of how productive these spaces can be.
So, to create these zones, you need to carefully use acoustics and movable furniture in the correct way. Shelving units can be moved accordingly and elements such as book trolleys are easily transportable.
Encouraging Young People
Although library spaces are for everyone, one of the key groups of people to encourage using libraries is young people. Interested young people will become life time library users and develop a passion for education and research.
Small adaptations such as the use of nesting tables or the correct display methods can make all the difference to a child’s experience of a library. Many libraries are now using display options more common in retail such as the curved acrylic display unit which allows children to quickly and easily spot their favourite picture books on offer.
Height adjustable furniture also offers a vast amount of versatility for a space and can help save significant amounts of money as the same furniture can be used for many different purposes.
For teenagers and young adults, the use of power outlets in soft seating areas allows them to work on laptops or ipads in a comfortable and relaxed environment.
Soft seating such as the Bend Collection is both modular and organic. It can be used for a whole variety of functions and its natural flow means that it can be adapted to work in any space.