In the Bear’s Den

A Showcase and Vision for Bartlett’s Library by Tom Grenier

Libraries are crucial to youth in order for them to successfully transition from adolescence to adulthood according to the Young Adult Library Services Association. In order to best serve this user group, libraries need to be “comfortable, inviting, open and have a vibrant and teen-friendly look and feel.” In addition, libraries need to accommodate both individual and group activities to best facilitate a variety of young adult socializing and learning modes. (YALSA 2012)

In renovating the floor plan of the case study library, I chose to focus on creating an arrangement that allowed staff to easily greet users upon their entering the library and also check materials out to them as they left. In conjunction with the addition of the internet work stations, staff can also easily keep a casual watch on most of the computers for appropriate use. The more distant monitors, although farther away, are visible to the general public and so might inspire users to self-police their internet browsing content.

Relocation of the circulation desk also facilitated the staff’s ability to monitor new private and semi-private areas created so users could operate in a variety of individual or group modes. The lounge area, Maker’s Space corner, and isolated group table allow for small meetings and study groups while individual chairs and stools placed among the book cases provide for individual and almost private experiences that can still be monitored from the circulation desk. Throughout the library are moveable small tables and chairs that can be arranged to facilitate spontaneous small group and individual needs.

The original floor plan suffered from an unappealing and limiting entrance as well as an excess of “work” space that could only turn into a storage or dumping ground.  Expanding the entrance to improve the visibility of the library for those passing in the hall as well as easing traffic flow past the circulation desk, help make the library more inviting. The addition of a New Titles informational kiosk that is visible from the hall also makes the facility more interesting to those passing by.   Reducing the area of the staff work room and adding counter surfaces increased its functionality and created two new spaces for both group and individual activities and helps address a wider variety of young adult socializing and learning modes.

The center of the library can support a visit from a class, unstructured small groups or individual traffic. The round tables can serve as audience space for the presentation area or be folded away to create more formal seating. Funding will come from dedicated school district bonds, community donations, and ongoing  area school-business partnerships.

A Sample Floor Plan Renovation