Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



More Functions under one Roof

An increasing number of public libraries enter new hybrid cultural arenas in interaction with other cultural institutions. The Billund Centre, which in addition to a public library houses a church, a theatre hall, a visual arts school, a music school and conference rooms, has been doing this for quite a few years, while others are more recent ventures. In Middelfart, the Culture Island contains a library, a cinema, a tourist office and a restaurant. In Ordrup, the library has been combined with learning and sports facilities. In addition to a library, the Culture Yard in Elsinore includes a concert hall, a restaurant, an exhibition room, a future Shipyard Museum and a number of attractive meeting rooms. On the second floor, a meeting centre has been established.

Positioning different cultural institutions under one roof can have many advantages. For starters, logistics: The multi-purpose culture centre's users gain access to many different services and activities within just a short distance. The co-location typically holds a potential for major or minor savings in relation to operation and maintenance. And with the different institutions under one roof, the multi-purpose culture centre will stand out more clearly in the urban space and in the culture-institutional landscape. Finally, the co-location holds exciting possibilities for new interdisciplinary interaction between the institutions and their combined staff. There are many combination possibilities, while the challenge is to create a synergy between the parties that will strengthen the city as a learning and experience space.


What is communal property? 

What is to take place in the multi-purpose culture centre's communal facilities? And how are the different institutions in the building to work together to design, change, update and provide service in the communal building? Should there, for instance, be a rota of shifts among the different staff groups in the co-habiting institutions? Or could it be advantageous to maintain a permanent staff in the communal property who have primary responsibility for servicing users and the operational coordination of new measures in the communal building?

A large, open space in immediate extension of the arrival area would be an obvious choice as the multi-purpose culture centre's primary, communal space. This ‘common square’ should invite people to stay there. It can be the setting for staged experiences, theatre, readings or music. It can also provide the setting for the presentation of titles, novelties or highlights from the co-habiting institutions. It can include a lounge and cafe environment. It can be an attractive setting for many of the visitors who seek a social meeting place or a study place, but who also want to be in touch with the life and the dynamics that take place in the common square. It is a space and a function that demand space for people to move about and for the possibility of activating free floor space. It can therefore be an advantage to avoid making material presentations too compact. Mobile bookcases, display cases and furniture can improve flexibility. However, at the same time, the furniture should preferably inspire people to stay for a while. The absence of static installations can also improve flexibility and adaptability. Read more about the common square's functions and find design tips here.

Worth considering:

Should the common square be a place where the individual institutions in the multi-purpose culture centre of their own accord can invite people to more experiences in their specialised culture spaces? Or should activities and material presentations to a higher degree be based on joint initiatives?

And where should the balance be between material presentation and framed experiences on the one hand, and the open invitation to users to stay in the centre on their own terms on the other?


And what is separate property?

Which spaces and settings should conversely not be shared? Which functions would it be an advantage to keep in the separately owned spaces? And which expert competences will it be an advantage to retain in connection with subject-related task solution?

In relation to the library, the main issue is probably the more classical library functions as the background for knowledge acquisition, the library as a learning space, with an updated, abundant material collection. The positioning in a multi-purpose culture centre makes it possible to place workshop functions, culture stage, meeting facilities etc. – which libraries increasingly need to find room for – in other parts of the building. This creates the possibility for the library to focus, in its separately owned spaces, on an attractive presentation of a material collection with breadth and depth and on creating optimum settings for knowledge acquisition and learning.

The library faces a special design challenge (as do the other players) in relation to ensuring that the multi-purpose culture centre's visitors also seek out that which is separately owned. Diagrammatic overviews supplemented by a day-to-day updated digital overview of activities in the building, combined with accessible guidance from the staff in the arrival area and in the common square, can contribute to improving both clarity and the invitation to enter into the separately owned spaces.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas about how to position different cultural institutions under one roof, or if you have comments to the actual design challenge, please feel free to comment via the Facebook group.

08. Jun 2016 at. 14:52

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