What is a library?


Ten years ago, in 2006, just before forming Nomad, our Principle Designers and Company Directors designed The Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. The Saltire Centre was a new type of library and was widely hailed as the project which changed the model of the modern University Library. Truthfully, it was part of a group of groundbreaking projects in a handful of Universities across the UK including the earlier Learning Grid at the University of Warwick and the later Learning Commons at Sheffield Hallam University. Since the completion of these projects, there has been a revolution in the design of University libraries throughout the UK, USA and Ireland and we have been privileged to be part of this. However, despite a wealth of excellent work in the field, there is yet to be another breakthrough moment on the scale of these projects in the design of the University Libraries.

The stereotype of the library that we are all familiar with is that of the knowledge bank, the silent, timber clad temple of books. In some ways this image might always be a part of what a library is, but what else can a library be and what is it becoming? Over the years we have discussed many ideas including the following.

The Library as a centre for culture which embraces the arts and performance

The Library as a place where the local community can gather and meet with the academic community.

The Library as a place where outdoor pursuits are celebrated or mini agriculture is encouraged.

The Library as a place which simulates a range of working environments such as offices, shops or factories

Perhaps even a place where one can have a quiet glass of wine while reading a classic in the hot tub (we won’t say who suggested that one!)

We know that the University has been experimenting with the library spaces, and we believe that finding out more about your ideas for your library spaces could be the key to some innovative and unique thinking.

The #FutureLibrary Project is an ambitious and exciting project, and we urge you to get involved. So, we want to ask you, what is a library today and what should it be tomorrow? Leave your thoughts and comments here, speak to our team when they are on site this week and watch out for the ‘What is a Library?’ poll next month.



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