The Downtown Library in a Global Context

In my previous blog entry on the NDDC’s recent Library Forum, I mentioned the presentation of Carleton Librarian Sam Demas. I had promised to share more of Sam’s remarks with you.

Sam had recently travelled the world studying libraries. He found some pretty cool concepts. I would like to share three of them with you.

First, there was the Quarter House in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Quarter House was a five-story, historic factory structure that was converted into a library. The library also included office spaces for creative professionals and a sidewalk cafe, bringing some of these not obviously but clearly related uses together. It indicated to me that although reusing our historic library and a multiple level library could be challenging, the Quarter House makes clear that it can be done.

Second, there was the Library 10 in Helsinki, Finland. This library was specifically marketed to young males, if I remember correctly, between the ages of 25 and 35. In addition to having musical insturments and recording equipment available on site, this library turned into a music club at night. It made me think that perhaps the library could help us meet one of our economic development challenges, attracting and retaining workers in that particular age group.

Third, there was the library in Vancouver. It, like the new library in downtown Minneapolis, has an atrium. According to the designers, atriums give the libary a mall feel that encourages people to use the space for community gathering. In addition to making me think of a place for Bridge Square Band Concerts in February, the atrium seemed like the perfect approach to “crossing 3rd Street” with the library structure to connect it with expanded space and structured parking to the south.

Sam’s presentation really helped me “think outside the box”. That’s what I think we need to do in order to keep this important anchor in our downtown.

The next opportunity for discussing the future of the Northfield Public Library is at the League of Woman’s Voters Fourth Monday Forum this Monday (6/26) night, 7 pm, at the downtown library.