Few public buildings are as beloved as libraries. Quite apart from lending out books, they offer a valuable social service across the generations. Many also provide secure spaces for valuable archives.
In the digital age, what is the role of the library building?
Often they provide a symbol of local pride or academic excellence, a place to meet and a calm area of retreat. Modern libraries may also incorporate exhibition spaces, audio-visual media areas and coffee bars.
A good example is the Millennium Library Norwich – part of the Norwich Forum development. Designed as a Millennium Landmark Project, it replaced the old 1960s library which was destroyed in a fire. It sits next to the BBC East studios, a restaurant and a very popular coffee bar. The open space in front of the library is used for a variety of exhibitions, craft fairs and performances.
PUBLIC AND UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
For over 20 years Adrian James Acoustics has worked on public and university library projects. Each appointment presents unique challenges. It is not enough simply to create an optimum acoustic, although this is essential in most cases. We are often asked to provide a range of acoustic treatment options. Our independent advice can lead to cost savings through computer modelling of alternative finishes for the internal design.
Two of our recent designs for Hopkins Architects led to a raft of awards. The Campus Library at UEL Stratford saw us winning the first-ever Association of Noise Consultants architectural acoustics award.
As we emerge from Covid-related lockdowns, we look forward to being involved with new libraries. We recently worked on a library project in Wandsworth and with enquiries coming in, it is heartening that libraries are still highly valued in 21st-century society.