Sunday, 8 March 2015

Upcycling the Library

I always feel badly for the authors whose books are on the bottom shelf at the library.  As I get older it seems it is getting harder to bend down that far to have a good look. Well, a brand new library in our area has corrected that issue with forward leaning shelves on the bottom.  A small innovation that seems a long time coming.

A group of concrete turtles lead your way into this library.

 It's no secret libraries are my favourite places and when the newest one, billed as a library of the future, finally reopened I just had to visit to see what all the fuss was about.
 It is a library that started out many years ago as only a single small room, which is the case for so many.  Now it is a whole building, a sleek, modern glass-walled building.  Everything about it is hyper-modern.  Inside all gray, muted colours with lots of steel, glass and corian counters.  The flooring is tiles, but carpet tiles, gray again and laid in an interesting pattern, designed specifically to mute all footfalls.  The only real colour is provided by the chairs which are a pale blue/teal colour, very pretty and because they are leather, very comfortable.  I can imagine some designer in the planning stages saying now we need a pop of colour and the chairs will do that.

Like so many of the libraries in the area, this one too has the automated track for taking away your returned books.  It also has the little boxed shelf that you place your check outs inside and a computer automatically scans your pile and checks out your books for you. Apparently this system is doing the work of six people which I'm not sure is a good thing.
 A couple of features were brand new to me.  As you browse the aisles, the overhead lights (which I had wondered why they were hung so low)  brighten up for you and dim again as you move away.  I thought this was a very cool feature.  Same thing happens with climate control.  Circular discs in the floor that turned out to be vents seem to sense your presence and send out a whiff of cool or warm air as you walk by.
The bathroom was likewise completely automated, everything working on sensory devices.  The paper towel dispenser was a lovely looking device, all curved lines with the name Intuition scrolled beautifully across the front.  Intuitive, indeed. The whole bathroom was designed so you almost had to touch nothing.  Operating room came to my mind.  
At this library, you can do everything you would do in any library and not have to speak to a soul. Unless you sought them out, you don't need a person for anything.
 Innovative, yes certainly, but also robotic to a certain extent; I guess that is the future in a nutshell.