Model Programme for Public Libraries

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The Study Zone

The library's function as a study and workplace is increasingly in demand. It may therefore make good sense to consider ‘the study zone’ as a special function at the library. However, in contrast to e.g. the arrival area, the study zone is not necessarily a delimited area in the library. The users' needs and requirements are too diverse for this. The study workplaces that are in demand range from closed study cells over open workplaces in the library space and from individual activities over group work to actual teaching activity. Flex spaces with glass walls for meeting activities and group work function well for this purpose, and at the same time they create a clear signal about accessibility and contribute to creating life in the library space. Individual study workplaces can be placed as ‘quick stops’ close to the entrance or in a central, visible place in the library space. Study workplaces that invite people to stay longer are often located by windows or in corners or niches. With or without PCs. And often with links to a thematic material collection.

Group workplaces are located in a way that ensures that conversations cause as little disturbance as possible. At Ørestad Library, workplaces have been laid out for groups of varying sizes on the first floor, while library materials are on the ground floor. At Aalborg Main Library, a large number of group workplaces are shielded off by bookcases, forming a zone of their own. Group workplaces can also be flexible so that they can both be self-organising and e.g. be used for creative workshops or language labs.

Study cells in an extreme form. OBA in Amsterdam. Photo: Signal Architects

Study cells are a special type of offer of individual workplaces. Probably the most extreme form can be seen at Openbare Biblioteek in Amsterdam, where visitors can enjoy peace and quiet, shelter and shielding in specially designed boxes.

As for the learning spaces where educational activities and other organised learning take place, the most consistent experience is that the space needs to be completely or partially closed off, as it has proved difficult to retain focus if teaching is organised in an open corner of the adult lending section. Glass walls are a solution that creates closed spaces while at the same time they allow the activity to contribute to creating visible life at the library. Read more about learning spaces here.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas of how libraries can create attractive settings for the users' study activity, or if you have comments to this article, please feel free to contribute via the Facebook group.

08. Jun 2016 at. 15:22

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