The living room in the city

In a time of backward looking concern for the future of libraries, Ken Worpole brings a welcome authoritative insight into the contemporary city-scape and the changing role of libraries. His understanding of the function of public spaces in civic life never fails to expand the horizons of the possible for those charged with creating the vision for libraries in the 21st century.

If libraries have a reputation for being universally welcoming, the new renaissance in prestigious library development projects across the world should be welcomed as a sign that the library, both as a public facility and a learning space, has a future as a place to meet, read, share and explore ideas in what might be called a ‘living room in the city’.

Designing libraries is about investing in people, about the changing ways in which libraries are perceived and used, and about rethinking concepts of the ‘typical’ user; and that, rather than the library building as a grandiose architectural spectacle, is the philosophy that informs this new book’s thoughtful approach to contemporary library building design and the commissioning process. 

The book is essential reading, not only for those about to embark on a new project, but for everyone working in and thinking about libraries and how the exploratory nature of information seeking, collaborative learning, consumer behaviour and new technologies affect the use of space, what library spaces are for and what that means for the decisions we are making right now.

A guide to library planning and design

The book features:

  1. A brief history of library architecture
  2. An account of some of the most distinctive new library designs of the 20th and 21st centuries
  3. An outline of the process for developing a successful brief and establishing a project management team
  4. A delineation of the commissioning process
  5. Practical advice on how to deal with vital elements such as public accessibility, stock-holding, ICT, back office functions, children’s services, co-location with other services such as learning centres, tourist and information services and sustainability
  6. In depth case studies from around the world, including public and academic libraries from the UK, Europe and the US
  7. Full colour illustrations throughout, showing technical details and photographs