Transferred from former blog MsKallDay
I was recently asked to present about the path CCPL took to be a contender for the IMLS Medal at the Take 5 Conference. Such a broad topic and long and detailed story was tricky to sum into a few brief minutes, and the scope is barely touched with the slides from the presentation, How to Be Awesome Like Us. (yes, it’s seriously called that)
One of the topics I touched on was the idea of Future Facing Facilities. In June of 2010, the Cuyahoga County Public Library Board voted to adopt the Facilities Master Plan, the “most significant building improvement program in the Library’s history”. You can read all about the details of the plan and even see preliminary drawings for upcoming projects and images from completed projects at the link above. The main goals of the Facilities Master Plan are:
- To ensure the Library’s financial stability into the future and to reduce operating costs through efficient building design.
- To create centers of excellence.
- To establish equity of service throughout the Library system.
Before I go on, I should add that the opinions expressed here on out are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.
There are many awesome, flashy things in the new buildings, such as an audio recording booth at Warrensville, a video recording studio at Garfield, gaming stations in youth areas, digital signage, etc.., etc..
These things are all fabulous. Of course, I’m a little bit biased since I had a hand in them, ahem. But, what I think is the crucial piece of the concept of forward facing design is recognizing the spirit of current human behavior, rather than accommodating any particular current behavior. So, yes, currently, customer demand for pc use is extremely high, so yes, we’ll put in a whole bunch of pcs, but that is an example of being responsive to current need. An anticipatory piece of that, however, is putting gigabit connections into new buildings so that we’re ready for the next jump in digital streaming.
Recognizing that people are always going to want places to physically congregate and that need is probably going to be much higher than their need for physical stuff to borrow from the library after the digital revolution is an example of future facing design.
So, instead of maintaining the old school library design that celebrated materials in tall, intimidating shelves that dominated the public floor. Physical collections are wrapped around and intwined into social spaces. Instead of building a space that’s perfect for books, future facing facilities designers build spaces that are perfect for people.
This is only one example of many, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about what customer needs will be important in the future how libraries can anticipate them in physical spaces.
Contact me via @MsKAllDay