Being a member of Australian Library Information Association, last year, I had the opportunity to vote for ALIA Library Design Awards and choosing the best designs from an impressive list of modern libraries was not easy however, relying on my aesthetic sense I voted for a few, and was happy to find a few of my selections in the winners’ list for different categories. I never gave a serious thought to modern human behaviour when I made my selections then. Recent efforts to gain employment in the GLAM sector exposed me to an interesting question about public libraries’ role in providing the communities access to information, and the changes that will be happening to the public library system in the next five years. This question compelled me to make connections between the modern library designs and the present generation’s human behaviour influencing me to research about the connections between the two.
We know that public libraries are regarded as the heart of societies which connects information with the information users and that these community hubs are undergoing such sea changes that in future these would be the much-preferred area for hangouts like the shopping malls or retail outlets, even with the strong leaning towards digital libraries. With efficient library placemaking, public libraries would not only be a place of information with knowledgeable people in it, who know how to guide people to access the required information, but would also be more inviting with a variety of spaces, activities and seating arrangements for all categories of patrons belonging to all age groups. Gaming space, technology space, messy space for fun and creativity, garden space, outdoor playhouses, collaborative spaces such as meeting rooms, study rooms, business incubators etc., spaces for cultural promotion and understanding, areas for relaxation like the café etc. would also be indispensable sections for public libraries in future.
It was eye opening to learn that a successful modern library has compelling spaces, quality collection, and research assistance as its ingredients, and psychological aspects (personal space, haven etc.) and functional aspects (comfort, durability, etc.) of human behaviour are being considered for configuring spaces besides laying emphasis on shape, size, light, colour, time spent by patrons, variation such as ceiling heights, aesthetics etc., in designing such a shared community space. With the addition of green libraries, public libraries are becoming more qualified for sustainable certificates than before as the emphasis is not only on the resources shared by a larger community but also on the health benefits to patrons and on energy efficient ways of operating these institutions with less damage to the environment. The fact that each year a few modern libraries are bagging the awards for the best library designs show that public library system is being revolutionized or transmogrified for the sole purpose of connecting communities.