Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen

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Public Library of the Year 2016

Dokk1 - the winner of the Public Library of the Year Award 2016

With its unique and central location in the city, Dokk1 has become a key element in the forward-looking strategy for creating more life by the harbour, which used to be a practically deserted area. It is evident that accessibility has been given high priority, not only in the positioning of the library, but also in the many outdoor areas and staircases that provide access to the building from all sides. This is supported by the shape and facade cladding of the building, which has no back, but has been given a primary facade on every side. In both the interior and the exterior, a classical construction element, the staircase, has been used as both a functional necessity and a place for meeting and resting. The jury also finds great architectural value in the simple and consistent choice of materials throughout the building, which adapts naturally to the harbour environment. Furthermore, the materials are of a high quality without being ostentatious, which makes the building stand out as a place of diversity with room for everybody. As a contrast to the many raw materials used, other elements have elegantly been incorporated to create a special atmosphere for the library's users through scale, materiality and colours, and it is impressive to see how the building's complex programme and the many elements are held together in a relatively simple layout. The library is classified as a low-energy building featuring, among other things, solar panels, LED lighting, recirculation of ventilation air in the parking area and seawater cooling.

With its many 'rooms for transformation', Dokk1 can do the same as a classical library and so much more. The size and the highly flexible interior design provide good options for both the users' own and the library's activities. Inspiration, knowledge and learning are available in several analogue and digital media forms, and there are activities for all age groups and across age groups, both planned and more spontaneous. Big and small learning spaces facilitate different workshops and maker-spaces and provide room for individual studies and group work. The children's area is particularly successful with its clear focus on play as a valuable activity – i.e. not only as a tool for learning or social education, but also as a cultural life statement fully on a par with literary or artistic experiences. Here, the outdoor playground is an added bonus. Innovative technology has been incorporated into the physical space to a great extent. With a high degree of user inclusion during the construction process, the intention has been to transform the library from being the library's place to being the citizens' place. One example of this is that users can communicate via Instagram to the library's screens, enabling everybody to become a part of the story of Dokk1. By the entrance and in front of one of the halls, there are interactive sound installations, which can also be controlled by the users. Finally, there is a bell, which will sound every time a child is born in the city, when the parents press a button at the hospital's maternity ward.

Architects: Schmidt, Hammer, Lassen Architects

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Nominees

Chicago Public Library, USA

The nomination of the Chicago Public Library is based on its fundamental consideration for the library’s users. Its location in China Town has created a basis for an extremely congenial architecture. The building occupies the city space in a natural and accommodating way thanks to its architectural form, scale and uniform facade with a clear sign on the façade. The clear form is implemented from the outside to the inside, where the proportions and materials work well together. The central atrium acts as a gathering point, and the spare glass walls ensure that the building is considered coherent. The library has a clear focus on children and young people and is one of the first libraries in Chicago to emphasise early literacy. The space for teenagers, the “YOUMedia area”, provides access to technology and learning programs. Moreover, the interior design and furnishings are flexible, so they can quickly be adapted to different purposes.

Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and Wight & Company

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Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Australia

The nomination of the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre is based on its central location as a socio-cultural hub in a city on its way from a heavy industry economy to a modern knowledge economy. The architecture is used as a clearly visual means to communicate the building’s internal program with a focus on diversity and life.  It also functions with a high degree of sustainability and is constructed with the Australian weather in mind. The use of hexagons, as a fundamental element in the design of almost all its components, is impressive as well as the colours inspired by Goethe’s colour wheel, which helps make orientation clear for users. The library is appealing thanks to its many facilities for cultural and learning activities for all age groups, including makerspace with 3-D technology and virtual reality. With very few fixed components, the library is flexible and well-secured for the future.

Architects: ARM Architecture

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Success Public Library, Australia

The nomination of the Success Public Library is based on its conscious position as an asset in an effort to gather more opportunities for people in the centre of the city. The building’s architecture is expressively mediating and helps create welcoming outside areas with matching urban furnishings. The large double-height space with a glass facade through which light is regulated by colourful slats creates a space that both addresses the world outside and creates a framework for inside absorption contemplation. Moreover, the incorporation of local aboriginal artworks enhances its great quality. Particularly noteworthy are the library’s learning areas with room for many different forms of learning and diverse activities from interactive learning and makerspace options to author readings and healthy diet programmes. This is a multi-functional library with room for activities for all age groups and, since all the furniture is moveable, space can quickly be created for new activities.

Architects: Bollig Design Group

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The prize

The prize is awarded by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces. The IT company Systematic is the sponsor in 2015 and 2016. Therefore the award is named ‘Systematic – Public Library of the Year Award’.

The target group is public libraries, i.e. municipality libraries. Applications can be made by individual municipalities. A municipality may apply in co-operation with relevant advisors.

The prize is US$ 5,000, which will be given to the municipality. Another 3-4 libraries will be nominated and awarded with a diploma. The nominees are obliged to deliver a presentation including pictures of their library - conducted by a representative from the library or by someone else - at the award ceremony.

Criteria for application

The library must be a new public library.  This means that it must have been completed during the period January 1st 2014 through June 1st 2016. 

The definition of a new library in this connection is a library that has been newly built from scratch, or a library that has been set up in premises that have not previously existed as a library.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on the basis of an overall assessment of the following six criteria: The criteria are not in order of priority.

1. Interaction with the surroundings and local culture: Including how the architecture reflects, or gives consideration to the local culture of the community, how it gives visibility in the urban landscape and interaction with surrounding buildings and open spaces. Is the library a driver of connections or movements in the urban context?

2. Architectural quality: Including how each space work in terms of functions and logistics. How is the architectural concept implemented and designed on different scales in the building? It is of great importance how the spaces affects people’s senses, for example with the use of light, darkness, sound, silence, indoor climate, and materials.

3. Flexibility: Including how rooms are designed and organized, and how surfaces and the combination of spaces are an inspiration for the users’ own activities and support new activities and synergy across various spaces. E.g. does the library include makerspace facilities for workshops or a stage? Are these used, and if so, how? Can the spaces be easily modified and used for various functions and activities?

4. Sustainability: Including how sustainable solution has been incorporated in the library, for example by reducing resources, or by using natural resources in a new way to extract energy. Similarly, it could be with the use of local materials for the construction.

5. Learning space: Including the way the library offers a diversity of inroads to education, how learning spaces support different learning situations, appeal to different needs, age groups and encourage various learning formats. How do the learning spaces interact with the rest of the library?

6. Digitization: Including how digital communication and accessibility of the library content is integrated in the library space, including the use of mobile technology. How is design, aesthetics and interaction used as the basis for the digitization? Has digitization been used in any innovative and creative ways to create experiences for the library users in the physical library.

Assessment committee

  • Chairperson of the Committee, Morten Lautrup-Larsen, Deputy Director, Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces
  • Maria Wedel Søe, Architect MAA, Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces
  • Jens Lauridsen, Library Head, Tårnby Municipality Libraries
  • Iben Østerbye, Head of Communications, Herning Library
  • Jan Richards, Manager, Central West Libraries, New South Wales, Australia
  • Leikny Haga Indergaard, Library Head, Bergen Public Library, Norway
  • Kent Martinussen, CEO, Danish Architecture Centre
  • Michael Christensen, Creative Director, CCO.

Practical information

Any questions may be directed at chief adviser Jonna Holmgaard Larsen, Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, jhl@slks.dk. 

The prize was awarded in August 2016 at the annual meeting of the IFLA, The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Press coverage

24. Aug 2016 at. 13:55

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