Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Starbucks Memorial Library

From the Chronicle's "Is it a Library? A Student Center?" (behind the subscription wall--sorry). This one's at Goucher College:

Any new library building will have hissing espresso machines, padded chairs, and noisy study areas. But what does one make of a library with an art gallery, a restaurant, and open forum space that can seat at least 700 people? How about treadmills, exercise bikes, and rowing machines as well?

. . . Among those attractions, on a balcony overlooking the forum, is the exercise equipment—ellipticals, bikes, rowing machines. "We'll see how much they are used," Mr. Ungar says. "It's a gamble—something I insisted on, because I think that if we are going to have a place where you can do everything, exercise should be part of it."

There is also a studio for the campus radio station, classrooms, a commuter lounge with a full kitchen, a unisex bathroom with a shower, along with all of the usual trappings of a traditional library: circulation and reference desks, study spaces, computer labs, and a prominent space for the display and preservation of special collections.
Ah, yes--nothing says the vita contemplativa like the sight of sweating bodies on a treadmill. It's interesting that a mega-espresso machine is mandatory for new libraries but books are more or less optional, just one sideshow "attraction" among the rest. But at least this one does have books:
The stacks are one of the first things people see when approaching the building from the road, with the candy-colored shelves—blue, yellow, red—and quiet study areas clearly visible inside. It's an intentional placement, meant to signal that books still hold a prominent place in the building, despite all the other attractions.

On the other hand, this does kill two birds with one stone: instead of a brisk walk outside to wake you up when you get all dozy reading in the stacks, you can get on a treadmill and get the brain cells moving again, or refuel with industrial-strength coffee.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

But are the book read?

Ink said...

I cannot picture the treadmills in that environment...how interesting!

Coffee, on the other hand, seems to go very nicely with books.

profacero said...

It sounds hilarious and ridiculous but maybe it's a good idea.

Our library is very, very soporific and it is either a punishingly dusty, sweltering walk to get to it or on other days, a very muddy and one.

You arrive in need of a cool shower and a lemonade. Or you arrive wet, and inside the library it is very cold. You then shiver, and your shoes and clothes do not dry quickly. When they do, they're muddy and gritty.

We don't want to go there, or be there, even though we know we need the books.

This would help although of course I want to know: what budget is all of that other equipment being bought with -- not the book budget, I hope?

undine said...

Anon, I hope that people would read the books, else why would they go to a library?

Ink, I can't imagine it either, but I can sort of see how it would become like some kind of kinaesthetic art after a while.

Profacero, it's so strange that maybe it would work. What does make some libraries more soporific than others? I've been in some where it was a challenge to keep your eyes open for 20 minutes. Maybe being able to catch movement out of the corner of your eye would keep people awake. I'll bet, though, that all the other "attractions" drain the money from the periodicals budget.