How to Create a Magnetic Library, Part 3
The Magnetic Library: Making it Personal
People come to libraries for many reasons, including everything from relaxing and playing to applying for a job online or intense research and study. They may visit libraries for individual work but just as often are looking to collaborate with others. To be magnetic, libraries must support the entire spectrum of library use.
Providing a variety of experiences gives users choices based on their needs on that particular visit. Offer quiet corners as well as lounge spaces that are more open and invite collaboration. Offer technology-free zones as well as technology-rich ones. Provide spaces for actively making and for passively absorbing. Giving customers choices for how they self-sort activity options helps to personalize the library.
Customization is another way to personalize the library. Library users can customize nearly every aspect of life today, from the color of their phone cases to when they want to watch their favorite television shows, to the elementary schools their children attend. With so much customization available, imagine the reaction when library users enter a library building where one mode of use is expected to fit all. At best, they see how the library is great for others, but not themselves. At worst, they think libraries are an outdated and obsolete concept.
Customization can be offered on a variety of levels. On a large scale, pivoting or sliding walls can change the very nature of a space from open to closed for privacy. Movable or sliding privacy screens can make a space private or visually accessible. Allowing customers to change a room’s layout (and therefore purpose) through flexible furnishings and smartly planned access to technology signals to users that the building is theirs. On an intimate scale, task lighting that users control is another way to allow customization. Offering access to power and data wherever they might need it also allows customers to use the library on their own terms.
Library users will revisit a library if they can see how it accommodates the ways in which they want to work, play, interact, study, create, engage, or find refuge. To be magnetic, libraries have to be designed so that customers can create the experience they are seeking.
The next, and final, post in this series addresses how magnetic libraries have a User-centric Focus.