Libraries

This collection gathers together some of the Archnet material on the architectural design of library spaces from the 20th century onwards. The Digital Revolution has radically altered the nature of libraries.  They are no longer seen as simply repositories in which people sit quietly under the watchful gaze of a librarian, constantly admonishing patrons to be quiet. Libraries of all kinds are increasingly seen as community spaces that allow for collaboration, active learning, and engagement, not just with material from the collection, but with other library patrons. Today's libraries often include exhibition spaces, performance venues, group workspaces, make spaces, and much more. Until recent decades, it was prohibited to bring food or drink into most libraries, but today it is common to see a café inside the library. 


That is not to say the traditional role of the library is finished. There will always be a need for libraries to serve as repositories and points of access to collections, both print and digital.  People will always have need of quiet spaces for reading, study, and reflection. This is especially true in higher education where students, both commuters and residential students, often live in shared spaces where concentration can be difficult. The role of the librarian as research consultant is also likely to persist well into the future. So the challenge is to develop spaces that match community needs, from collections access to group gathering spaces. 

There are various types of libraries in this collection, from community based "microlibraries" such as the Bunateka in Kosovo and the Micro Yuan'er Children's Library and Art Center in Beijing (AKAA Recipient, 2016), to major national libraries such as those in DohaRabatShiraz, and Singapore. All have been constructed since the beginning of the 20th century, though some, such as the Al-Aqsa Library and Islamic Museum, the Library of the Tangier American Legation, the Beyazit State Library, and the Women's Library and Information Center in Istanbul, are examples of adaptive reuse or renovation of existing spaces. The King Fahd National Library in Riyadh encompasses the structure that was the old library, and the Ceuta Public Library is built around an archeological site from the Marinid era.  

Enjoy exploring the collection. 

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