Do you ever visit other libraries when you are traveling or is that just something librarians do?

I recently came back from a conference in Seattle. While I was there I visited the new Seattle Public Library building which opened about 2 1/2 years ago. This urban library is something to see with its unusualarchitecture and building layout. For information about the building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, go to http://www.arcspace.com/architects/koolhaas/Seattle/ .  For a fabulous slide show on the library web site go to http://www.spl.org/images/slideshow/NewCentralSlideshow.asp. Notice the bright colors (the elevator is chartreuse and when you get off at the 4th floor it is totally red!) and the very large words to identify areas. Also note the areas that are named for local corporate donors (Microsoft, Starbucks).  Large Dewey numbers are located on the floor to identify book stacks.

At the entrance to Library headquarters is a quote from Andrew Carnegie, the wealthy industrialist who endowed libraries throughout the United States about 100 years ago. “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” 

The evening I was there, there were people everywhere, adults, teens and children. I wasn’t sure it was a place I would like to work but the public seems to love it.

What stood out from my visit was the glass, steel and color. And I have to admit that the more I look at the pictures the more I like it. Take a look yourself and let me know what you think.

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5 Responses to Do you ever visit other libraries when you are traveling or is that just something librarians do?

  1. edruda says:

    Wow – they have a living room??!!

    I love it. The combination of library-as-shopping-mall friendliness and library-as-Louvre loftiness is inspired. Whether I could feel cozy enough to lose myself in a book or a magazine is questionable, though.

    PS – I think it’s just a librarian/library worker thing! 🙂

  2. As a Seattle resident, my main objection to the new library is how noisy it is! While I think that discussion and conversations do have a place in a modern day library, the fact is that the new downtown library is completely useless for anyone who wants to use it for that old library standby, studying!

    It is beautiful though. 🙂 Very easy to get lost in as well.

  3. shem kerr says:

    I’m visiting libraries less and less, because books are becoming a less important study tool for me while real life is becoming more so.
    I see the public library as the living room of a community; a place to discuss, to contemplate ( a place for the muse); and the books as more and more getting in the way.

  4. Michael says:

    Wow, what a beautiful library! I especially like how the simple wooden floors blend with the crisp, modern decoration and architecture.

    I’ll visit libraries when I travel if I am looking for something in particular to check out–but I don’t just to see the library.

  5. Winnie says:

    You ask if everyone visits libraries when they travel. Everyone who visits our town seems to come into the library.
    My children (all adults) have a joke that whenever I get lost, I find a library. Take a wrong turn, look there’e the library! I’ve done it driving and on public transit in three countries.
    I still am of two minds about the actual architecture of the Seattle Library but I am a firm believer that the library, as a community corner stone, should be a spectacular building.

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