Designing Today, Destination Tomorrow: Libraries equipped to serve and innovate

New libraries are currently being planned or have recently been completed in many cities around the world. New technologies and changes in individual behavior alter the way in which we approach familiar services in such an evolving environment. It requires that we rethink how we approach the design of these services, the services themselves, and the structure in which they are housed.

Helsinki is planning a new central library scheduled to open in 2018. In planning for this, the Helsinki City Library organized a conference to share experiences and exchange ideas. Design Director of the global KONE Corporation, Anne Stenros, opened the conference with the Keynote address. She pointed out with telling statistics that what we today assume to be the normal customer will not be so in the near future. So we must be prepared to alter our way of thinking regarding to who we are designing our services, and who will be our future users.

We heard about the current plans for the new Central Library in Helsinki, Finland. Participants also followed presentations from different cities in Europe (and even as far as Halifax, Canada) that have recently built libraries or are in some stage of planning new libraries or renovating existing ones. As these libraries do not develop in a vacuum, we also learned of a growing project to provide a way to benchmark the quality of public libraries.

Meiju Niskala served as the conference MC, and helped to create a casual and relaxed atmosphere for speakers and participants alike. This provided for friendly discussion about ideas new and old, challenges being faced, possibilities to be realized, and to embrace the notion that while we are working towards completing new libraries, the interior and planned services will perhaps never be truly completed. In summarizing the conference, Reinert Mithassel (Oslo Public Library) concluded that perhaps we have finally reached a watershed moment, where we are no longer discussing the library only in terms of materials or collections, but in terms of people.

More information:
Helsinki Central Library
Twitter: #ReLibraryHelsinki

Live Stream videos:
Tuula Haavisto: Welcome to Central Library Conference
Riitta Kaivosoja: Welcome to Central Library Conference
Anne Stenros: KEYNOTE SPEECH, Humane City – Lifestyle Trends and Spaces in Transition
Pirjo Lipasti: New Central Library – Helsinki
Antti Nousjoki: New Central Library – Helsinki
Maija Berndtson: Higher Quality in Public Libraries
Knud Schulz: The Library – A Public Innovation Space
Britta Bitsch: Intelligent logistics
Reinert Mithassel: My library
Kirsi Luukkanen: Kaisa House – designed for studying
Åsa Kachan and George Cotaras: A Place for Everyone
Simona Ziliene: Vilnius City Library – new main library
Anne-Marie Evers: Bringing an iconic library into the future
Designing Today, Destination Tomorrow –discussion
Reinert Mithassel: Designing Today, Destination Tomorrow -summary

Picture: Helsinki Central Library, For the media

– Harri Annala, 3.4.2015 –

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