Is your library welcoming?

Do you visually welcome the public at your library?  As I visit libraries (Yes! I’m one of those library geeks who visit on their vacations!) each one has it’s own feeling.  Some are warm and welcoming and others seem cluttered and confusing or cold and impersonal.

Our building was designed by Michael Graves.  If you know his style you can see it as soon as you enter the Rotunda.

We made a decision when designing the building to put our non-library functions: meeting rooms, cafe, gallery, etc. at the front of the building.  This allows access to them before and after library hours.  It works great!  However, one trade-off is the collections are not visible from the front.  We often get questions from new members, “where are the books?”  We’ll talk about that in another post.

The space is impressive and full of light but is not necessarily welcoming.  It has great acoustics and provides a performance space over the holidays.  Groups from the local schools and others love to perform with lots of doting family in attendance.  We’ve had 2 flash mobs in the space!  All of this is fine for those special occasions, but day-to-day it is not welcoming.

Three things we tried to cozy up the space have worked well:

  • Art collections.  We have a significant art collection.  Display cases are placed around the rotunda to showcase smaller items.  People stop an look at the exhibits and will bring friends and family back to see the art.
  • Banners eight feet long create eye catching advertising for up-coming programs.  We create these in-house. They add color and visual interest to the space.
  • We had a few wooden benches which were used for people waiting on rides, but nothing comfortable.  We pulled some chairs from storage and placed them in the rotunda with small side tables.  People are in them all the time.

    About 3,000 people a day go past this spot.  The acoustics are great for music but they also amplify children s voices and squeaky shoes.   But people will spend long periods just reading!  Which is wonderful!

  • We also have our events monitor in the space to display meetings for that day.

is your library cozy and welcoming?  What have you done to make it that way?  Any ideas for us?  Let me hear from you.

  • cathy burnett

    Forgive me, I should know this, but are there any plants in the rotunda? Is there any room to put plants? Nothing warms up and softens a room like plants!

  • Rob

    Cathy,

    Thanks for mentioning that. We talked about plants a couple years ago and ran into some issues and they just dropped off the radar. This gets them back on the list. You are right. Plants do a lot to warm up a space. Thanks!