Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Tomorrow's Music Library at Aalborg Main Library

What should tomorrow's music options look like, and how should we communicate music options in the future when the physical collection keeps getting smaller? Instead of offering music via a physical collection, we can focus more on inspiring citizens and gathering them around music. The case proposes ideas about how libraries can provide unique experiences, knowledge and education for people with an interest in music.

Today, libraries are up against fierce competition from other music providers, and it has become necessary to review the music library. Aalborg Libraries have collaborated with Randers Library on a development project that focused on rethinking tomorrow's music options. The project period ran from March to December 2016 with funding from the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces. One of the initiatives launched by Aalborg Libraries was a redesign of the physical music options at the Main Library under the heading 'Music out into the library'.

Young people in particular demand improved music options at the libraries because they have time for and an interest in music. The result of the redesign has shown a need for new ways of communicating music and other types of activities supported by the interior design.

Music out into the library

In Aalborg, all music options were gathered in one room, SCENEN (the STAGE), on the library's first floor.

The project has used the Model Programme's tool, the 4-space model, in its redesign of the music options. The model identifies the possibilities of creating an educational space between target group and music provider. The new ideas and design measures are subject to Aalborg Libraries' general interior design principles.

Based on the 4-space model, Aalborg Libraries have launched four new initiatives that are to help spread music across library, thus supporting new communication forms and activities:

  1. A music lounge has been created, which supports the performative space and the meeting space.
  2. The history of music is communicated in a redesign of SCENEN. This supports the inspiration space and the learning space in particular.
  3. A multi-stage has been established in the library's glass corner.
  4. Music is communicated throughout the library through a loudspeaker system and theme-based exhibitions.

1. Designing a music lounge

The purpose of the Music Lounge is to create a space for live music and music-related activities on an intimate stage (about 20-30 participants). The expectation is that the Music Lounge will support collaboration about music activities at the library with people from the city who have an interest in music, and that it will spark an interest among practising musicians in performing at the library because an open stage is offered (the user-generated option).

The idea about establishing the Music Lounge stems from the project's user survey among the younger target group about their use of, need for, and interest in music. This survey was followed up by a workshop among stakeholders in Aalborg's music life who have expressed a wish for an open stage, a focus on the listening experience, allowing people to get closer to the music, and more collaboration and network across different groupings.

The Music Lounge is located in a part of the library that is already used a lot by students and the younger target group. This advanced position has been chosen in order to bring the music options more out into the light, whereas before they were located in the SCENEN area on the first floor.

The atmosphere in the Music Lounge is intimate and signals 'music' to a younger target group. The performative element and the chance to meet around music are supported by the fact that guests have the opportunity to book the stage for events, and by selected musical instruments being available for people to use. The Music Lounge is part of a long-term effort to establish a local network in the city's musical environment by giving music communication a lift in general.

Overview of the new layout of the Music Lounge.

Baroque chairs from BCI – for music lovers.

The atmosphere in the room must be able to serve as inspiration for both rock and classical events. This is why the style is both raw and baroque, supported by a few pieces of furniture in classical colours. The chairs from BCI are called Proust. The room has been designed with a large stage curtain and mobile furniture and technology, so that the stage is flexible and can be targeted at big or small events with varying numbers of participants.

The size of the new Music Lounge can be scaled up and down according to needs and the size of the audience.

As the room features just three seats, it is always ready for events. For large concerts with a seated audience, the room can be supplemented with stacking chairs. Portable loudspeakers have also been incorporated into the design, as have a new PA system, a giant television screen, and a large, black glass board, which is used for communication.

In order to support the practising and performative elements, the sheet music collection has been moved from SCENEN to PULSEN (the PULSE).

Vinyl records and sheet music have been placed close to the Music Lounge.

Inspiration in the Music Lounge:

  • The music magazines, which already belong in the PULSE, have been given a central exhibition spot in the room.
  • The sheet music has been given a separate exhibition spot, which is highlighted by a deep, yellow colour.
  • An exhibition spot has been set up for changing theme-based exhibitions with music materials.

The yellow spots are repeated throughout the Music Lounge.

The Music Lounge has already been put to good use. A series of photos from the opening.

2. Redesign of SCENEN – The history of music

When several of the music materials were moved out across the library, the challenge was to create cohesion between the remaining functions and materials in the room that used to be called SCENEN. Looking ahead, the project team also wanted to see even more work with the inspiration space in the library's music option. It was therefore only natural that SCENEN was given a new interior design with the history of music as its principal theme.

The purpose of the room is to create space for inspiration, involvement and immersion in music and its history. The room is particularly to support the inspiration space (but implicitly also the learning space and the meeting space) by communicating music and its history. The history of music is communicated in various ways, including by means of a local aspect featured on the library's own 'Hall of Fame' wall.

Overview of the new layout of SCENEN.

The open square at SCENEN has been converted into a living room from the 1960-70s with sofas, bookcases and other period items. The TV, radio / record player and a portable gramophone are natural parts of the setup. Materials about 'The History of Music' have been pulled out of the collection and integrated into the bookcases in the actual 'living room'.

Wall decorations at SCENEN

Four large boards on the walls describe four different music players and their history – with the actual players and, for instance, cassette tapes added for special effect. At the same time, music from the period serves as inspiration.

All CDs are gathered in one area, framed by purple walls. The walls feature three pictures that depict the development of three different musical genres.

3. From plant trough to multipurpose stage

The library's GLASS CORNER is bright, inviting and ideal for all forms of events, as it can accommodate many visitors. Before, a lot of time and resources were spent on setting up stage modules, which would then subsequently have to be taken down again. In order to avoid this extra work, the chosen solution was to convert the building's large plant trough into a stage. The palm trees were simply removed, and the actual trough was closed and covered with a wooden floor, which resembles an outdoor patio. In that connection, a bench was made along the trough, which also serves as steps up to the stage. When the stage is not being used, people can sit on the steps in our lounge chairs, enjoy the view and relax in the calm and de-stressing atmosphere that is linked to the beautiful library garden.

The new stage met the challenge, and we now have a multifunctional solution in the library's most attractive corner, which only served as decoration before.

4. Communication via the library's loudspeaker system and theme-based exhibitions

Aalborg Libraries give priority to providing space for music throughout the library. During the self-service opening hours, background music is played through the library's extensive loudspeaker system, helping create a sense of safety and a cosy atmosphere. The arcade that leads up to the main library's entrance also features background music throughout the opening hours. The loudspeaker system is divided into zones, which makes it possible to adapt the music to different target groups and activity levels in the course of the day.

We also work on communicating the library's many options and material types across groupings through exposure in theme-based exhibitions and campaigns where music and sound effects are used to support a message and act as an 'audible' eye-catcher – an 'ear-catcher'.

04. Sep 2017 at. 15:28

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