What would your dream library look like? How do you envision the library of the future?
Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner wants to hear your ideas at a Community Conversation: Re-Imagining Library Spaces scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium, 206-386-4636.
Turner will be joined by panelists Dri Ralph, facilities design coordinator for The King County Library System, Walter Schacht, fellow of the American Institute of Architects and Tom Fay, director of library programs and services for The Seattle Public Library.
This Community Conversation is sponsored in conjunction with AIA Seattle, Design in Public and Space.City.
'Throughout its 125 year history, The Seattle Public Library has successfully adapted its buildings and services to meet the needs of our patrons,' Turner said. The Seattle Public Library, which maintains a five-star rating, had nearly 13 million visits and circulated over 11 million items last year.
'Particularly in a rapidly changing world, it's important we engage with our patrons on how we should be planning for the future, including looking at innovative ways to improve Library spaces,' Turner said.
While a 1998 capital bond measure helped renew Library buildings across the city, many of those improvements happened over a decade ago, and demographic and technology changes have affected the way Library patrons currently use Library services. Use of digital materials continues to rise, as well as patron participation in educational classes and events.
'I'm looking forward to hearing ideas from patrons on ways we can re-imagine Library spaces to enhance services to our diverse community,' Turner said.
He noted that the Central Library was recently re-imagined in order to host Shakespeare's First Folio, currently on exhibit on Level 8. Part of the re-imagined project included creating an interactive space called 'The Meadow,' on Level 3. The First Folio exhibit, which includes an array of related programs with partner organizations, has drawn an average of 500 new patrons to the Central Library each day.
Last summer, the Central Library extended its programming space to the building's plaza, where it hosted several outdoor community events, which was also new.
Turner will talk about some of the other innovative ways The Seattle Public Library and other libraries and educational institutions are currently re-imagining spaces, along with three panelists.
'Libraries of the future need to be flexible to respond to the dynamic needs of patrons and staff,' Ralph said.
'Our work is focused on creating places for community, culture and education,' Schacht said. 'We see the public library as the central and most accessible civic institution in our communities. I'm looking forward to discussing how we can create appropriate library spaces, now and in the future, which support that critical role.
Fay agreed, noting that the Library is used by many people for many purposes.
'The Library supports a wide variety of needs,' Fay said. 'Whether it's the millennial worker who needs stable Wi-Fi and a quiet place to work, the entrepreneur who needs resources to start their first business or the newcomer to the U.S. who needs help learning English, the Library is here to support everyone in our community with the spaces, resources and information expertise that they need to succeed in life.'
Turner said a Library advisory group came together in 2013 to hear from a variety of other industries about their approach to creating spaces that more effectively serve their customers. Based on those conversations, the group identified some guiding principles for The Seattle's Public Library's work around Re-Imaging Library Spaces.
The Re-Imagined Spaces service priority is funded by leveraging scheduled capital improvements of Library buildings - currently made possible by the Library levy passed by voters in 2012. When possible, the Library also utilizes private funding to adapt existing spaces to respond to changes in patron usage.
Just recently, the Rainier Beach Branch was renovated with a partial re-roofing, interior and exterior painting and new carpet thanks to Library levy money. At the same time, the branch was re-imagined to open up the floor plan, brighten the interior and add new features such as: a laptop bar in the building's lobby; a single staff service desk to clarify where patrons should go for help; collaborative work spaces; a quiet zone for adults; improved spaces for families, children and teens; and a digital media room.
The Re-Imagined Spaces Community Conversation is part of a series of community discussions Turner is having on five service priorities that are guiding the future of the Library. The series has included a conversation about youth and early learning, as well as Seattle culture and history. Future conversations will be devoted to his other two priorities - technology and access and community engagement.
Everyone is welcome to attend and discuss the changing nature and future of Library spaces.
For more information, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or visit https://www.spl.org/ or Ask a Librarian at https://www.spl.org/using-the-library/get-help/ask-a-librarian
Courtesy of Seattle Public Library
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