|Children's Gateway - Kristin Kuhns concept drawing|
via On the Way
As the need for a seismic reinforcement at the Library may be starting to get lost in the talk about the need for a new Police Station, we should be talking more about the Library. In fact, it seems like we are missing a big opportunity to talk about the Library as a foundational civic institution.
|No driver observes unmarked crosswalks here, even with signs.|
Even with improved connections to the sidewalks,
access across busy roads is difficult
|How about a sidewalk so you don't have to push a stroller|
through the driveway? The lot design forgot people on foot.
We multiply physical barriers to the Library.
Plainly, it was assumed that people would be driving to the Library. Can and should we assume this any more?
The American Institute of Architects and American Library Association earlier this month announced winners in their Library Building Awards.
|The 2011 library in Vantucky: Winner!|
Miller Hull Architects
Libraries instantiate some of our highest values. Values for knowledge, creativity, generation, truth, beauty, goodness - really, they embody many of the highest values of civilization.
We should want to invest in our libraries and to make them vibrant centers for the best of our civic life - as important banks and markets in the circulation of ideas.
You might say this is a distraction or delay from the primary need for a seismic retrofit of the Civic Center, a significant public building.
But we have external circulation problems with the current site. Simply reinforcing the interior doesn't solve them.
And with electronic media of all kinds, the things and nature of library circulation, too, is changing. As an institution "the Library" is in flux.
Not just books. Libraries anchor 24/7 learning & also, cherished spaces. Shift in perception detailed in report. https://t.co/V7GdXSHQ7VIt may be that simply investing in a seismic retrofit for the current library configuration will represent doubling-down on a 20th century library system that is already growing obsolete. There are good reasons to think that a less centralized neighborhood branch system would serve Salemites better and help with external circulation and connections. There are also reasons to think that the things a library circulates will continue to evolve and that our central monolith - yes, I still say "charmless concrete bunker" - will pose an increasing mismatch with the services we want a library to provide.
— Oregon State Library (@oregonstatelib) April 13, 2015
Maybe the Library itself needs a "blue ribbon committee" to consider its future.
In any case, we need to make sure we talk about appropriate safety and provision for library services, however they are configured, and that we honor the Library's role in civic life with appropriate - and beautiful - building design and place-making.