This week’s VALA 2008 conference in Melbourne includes a series of presentations about designing physical and virtual spaces for scholarly activity.
Scholarly activity happens in many different kinds of places. Perhaps the most obvious is the library building.
What does a library look like? Here are photos of two libraries that look like giant bookshelves: temporary construction hoarding around the Cardiff (Wales) library; and a more permanent decorative wall in Kansas City, Missouri (USA).
Things are changing in the world of library design: just look at the variety of topics on the UK Designing Libraries web site. The list of resources on the Libris Design site covers a similarly broad range of topics, from signage to acoustics. The Whole Building Design Guide describes some typical attributes of an academic library and outlines the design considerations that arise from these. All three of these sites are intended for people who plan and (re)develop physical library spaces.
Among my webby/designer colleagues, the renovation of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has become a well-known (and admired) example of user-focused design techniques being applied to both physical and virtual spaces. In particular, the team of architects and design consultants spent time learning about the different ways people seek, find and use information in a library.
Where else do we interact with scholarly information? What kinds of physical spaces do we need on campus to encourage and enhance that activity?