Libraries Turn Up Their Curb Appeal to 11

Cool Library

Via: The Columbus Dispatch

"Couldn't you just make 10 louder?"

"But this library goes to 11."

Shame on you if you don't get that reference.

Moving right along, my writer pals and I have had this conversation more than a few times, the one pertaining to why libraries are going down the crapper and how we (if we were so inclined) would move to change that.  Sadly, foot traffic is down, and this can mainly be attributed to the fact that most book lovers prefer places like Barnes & Noble simply due to the amenities.  Coffee and comfy chairs can go a long way, and it's not like libraries are exactly giving us the hard sell.  There's no bombshell blonde in a Burberry pencil skirt asking, "What will it take to get you into this book today?"

In some fucked up parallel universe (perhaps on Fringe), they push Hemingway and Updike the same way we sell German automobiles.

Well, our libraries are taking a step in the right direction in regards to their curb appeal.  In an attempt to stay relevant amongst competition and boost circulation, libraries are now mirroring the retail chains in a few capacities.

The downtown location of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, for instance, is taking a leaf out of the Starbucks playbook and has added some huge comfy chairs in their travel section.  No purchase required.  They encourage people to hobo it up with their laptops and loiter to their heart's content.  Or if you're into poetry, feel free to share your thoughts on the message board (can't do that at Barnes & Noble).

They've also got a "As Heard on NPR" and "Staff Picks" section (remember when Blockbuster did that shit?).  The Dublin branch marked off their true crime books with police tape, upping their presentation.  And the Hilliard branch hits you with new and featured titles at the door, so just try and walk past the new Eugenides or Murakami without picking them up--they dare you.

Library spokesman Kim Snell remarked on the removal of the large circulation desks so they could put up more displays.  “We don’t want our staff just hovering behind a desk,” Snell said. “Having the books facing out can expose patrons to a title, author, or subject that they might not have seen.”

So it sounds like our libraries are getting a little bit more proactive about getting people in, and I'm always happy to report on the pimping of the written word.  While we're on the subject, what would you guys like to see in your local libraries?

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Shea's picture
Shea from Ontario, Canada is reading The Eagle of the Ninth November 29, 2011 - 8:09am

Coffee!!! Give me coffee and a comfy spot to sit and I could turn loitering into an Olympic event.

.'s picture
. November 29, 2011 - 9:45am

I was going to finish reading this but I was too excited that I actually got a reference without having to look. I don't see a Starbucks in this library though...that would be 11.

NotMarilyn's picture
NotMarilyn from Twin Cities, MN is reading Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn November 29, 2011 - 1:57pm

I agree with Shea. Coffee or some really good tea and I'd stay all day.

miked's picture
miked from Los Angeles is reading White Noise November 29, 2011 - 2:51pm

The public library in Santa Monica, California tore down it's hobo palace and rebuilt from the ground-up to feel more like a gathering place, complete with coffee / tea / food in a built-in courtyard. They even put the good looking, new books up front in B&N-like displays.

My initial complaint about the place was that it didn't feel dense with books. Upon digging though, you'll find the same collection they always had, so that sparseness is an intentional design choice.

I still dig the libraries that look like that screenshot above. Damn, I even feel smarter just looking at it.




Sarah Metts's picture
Sarah Metts from Rock Hill, SC is reading A Game of Thrones November 30, 2011 - 6:59am

The hobos at our library are masters at finding comfortable places to lounge. Sprawled on couches with newspapers on top or even the center of the movie history aisle, they know how to get comfy.

There is a French pastry store in Charlotte, NC called Amelie's. It has several comfy couches and tasty treats. I imagine that with a library in the center, couches and tables snaking inwards to a central gathering area. Sounds like a dream. Hope I can experience this trend.