You know, I've discovered something about libraries.
There are, so far, two types of college library, and I think that their design says something about the nature of the college itself.
At the first college I went to, the library was designed to be a safe place - a good place to work, a good place to relax, a good place to be period. There was no coffee shop, but the cataloging system was organized and the library was a model of efficiency in most respects. The tables were arranged among the shelves, making your study area isolated and ringed by protective rows of books. The chairs were comfortable, and the entire library seemed to be put together so as to put you right in among the books you were looking at. The college itself, by extension, was completely and totally safe. You could leave your book bag in the library, go to lunch at the CUB, and expect to find your things untouched in the same spot you left them in at the library an hour later. People were kind to each other, and the entire place made you feel as if you were detached from the world outside the campus boundaries, enclosed in a safe little bubble.
The university I currently attend has a completely different feel. The library building, while it is nicely designed, simply does not feel safe. The computer desks make you want to guard your screen. The books are all on one floor, and the tables are all right next to each other, so again, there is no sense of privacy or, by extension, safety. There is a coffee shop, and it is perhaps the most comfortable place in the entire library. The buildings loom overhead, and you have to walk fifteen minutes to get to your next destination. The people are vaguely polite at best and clannish at worst. It's too... busy. Too many people coming and going, and I simply cannot bring myself to relax. The technology is advanced, but there is no sense of community and certainly nothing welcoming about it.
Underhill and Deeper Still
- Of colleges and libraries