Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond

Nice article in the New York Times titled, "Breaking Out of the Library Mold." It primarily talks about the upcoming changes at the Boston Public Library, but it also does a nice job showing how libraries, in general, are transitioning.  Check it out!


Sachem (NY) Public Library's Revamped Children's Library - In Progress

This is one of my latest children's space projects in progress at the Sachem Public Library, NY. The video shows the Burgeon Group interactive wall installation.  Our team planned and designed their entire new children's area to open soon!  Thanks to Lehner Designs, Marisa Amara, and Burgeon Group for an awesome collaboration.  Stay tuned for more.


Interesting Products

Just thought I'd share a few interesting products that some friends have recently shared with me.

We've been doing a ton of children's space design lately so I've been in the market for interesting design ideas.  My friend and colleague John Strasius from Perkins+Will Architects recently sent me a pic of balloon lighting.  Inspirational!  Thanks John.

What do you think of Bram Boo's four-seat, iPad-equipped Salsa Table?  I must say, I'm not quite sure what to make of it.  It certainly looks cool.  I love the incorporation of iPads into library space.  We've been doing quite a bit these days with iPads in our children's spaces, but this design seems to lend itself more to pre-teens and teens.  I'm curious about the ease of maintenance and security with the technology.  My biggest hang-up with the product is the white finish.  I think it will look good for a few weeks (maybe even months), but then....mmmmm...not so sure.  Who knows...maybe Mr. Clean magic erasers would do the trick.  I've seen some pretty unfortunate interior design situations involving white furnishings in several European libraries.


The Pursuit of our Future

It's been a while since I posted.  Part of the reason is that I've gotten discouraged.  Maybe that's not a good excuse, but it's the reason.

Over the past 9 years I've spent the majority of my energy and my time trying to help libraries, their communities, and library workers and board member move forward into a future - a bright and successful future.  I feel that most days I am unsuccessful with this endeavor and I struggle with what to do differently.  I was inspired when I read yesterday's blog post by Seth Godin.  I hope library workers and board members will take this to heart.  I know I do.    

"The most effective, powerful way to envision the future is to envision it, all of it, including a future that doesn't include your sacred cows. Only then can you try it on for size, imagine what the forces at work might be and then work to either prevent (or even better, improve on) that future and your role in it. 
It's not disloyal to imagine a future that doesn't include your founding precepts. It's disloyal not to."


Face Out Shelving for Children

It's not a secret that I'm a huge fan of face out or "flip-through" shelving for children's libraries.  Face out collections engage users and increase circulation.  If you want kids to connect to collections you need to show them what you have and make materials easily accessible.  Excite them and encourage them to interact with the collection by showing them the colorful and interesting cover designs.  Don't bore them or discourage them with rows and rows of spines.

I know that many in our profession are scared by this idea because they say 1) staff and adults won't be able to find things and/or 2) things will be out of order.  My response to this....

Many may think that spine out display is easier for staff and adults, but it's definitely not easier for or appealing to kids and, to me, the #1 goal for children's libraries is to connect kids to the collection.  And, according to several libraries who have implemented face out, flip-through shelving, it can be easily accessible to adults too.  The key is to think about the system you set up, how you process the materials, etc.

Over the past several months I've been doing a great deal of research on and analysis of picture book and other children's collections.  I've found that with some weeding (sometimes some pretty significant weeding) and transitioning to flip-through shelving, circulation of materials is going up anywhere from 20 - 40%.  If you're looking for some good examples to share with decision makers, the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, IL has had great success.  See their YouTube video for more information.  The Frankfort Public Library District in Frankfort, IL has also reported significant increases in circulation.  Several of my clients are also in the process of transitioning.  A few have already, in a few short months, seen the positive results of both weeding and flip-though display.

When looking for flip-through / face out / bin shelving, there are many products on the market to choose from.  Biblomodel shelving is one of many good options.  Both Indian Prairie and Frankfort use this type of shelving.  In addition, I've put together a picture book shelving resource to show you a few others.