I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many different types of libraries around the world and I really enjoy the architecture and design of today’s modern libraries. Many libraries today are striving to be innovative and cutting-edge though the design of their buildings as well as their services and resources. Here are ten libraries that look as if they have been transported back from the future.
1) Vennesla Library and Culture House
Located in Vennesla, Norway, the Vennesla Library and Culture House looks like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. This unusual space contains a library, a café, meeting spaces, administrative areas, and links to an existing community house and learning centre. More coverage here.
2 ) University of Chicago Mansueto Library
The Library at the University of Chicago has been designed to maximize the physical space in the library sporting an 8,000-square-foot main reading room under a glass paneled dome. But keeping scholars in mind, the library has a massive underground storage facility holding 3.5 million volumes which are retrieved by by robotic systems. More coverage here.
3) Stuttgart City Library
The Stuttgart City Library is a stunning new media center located with a five-story atrium and an all-white interior. This futuristic-looking library is located in Stuttgart, Germany. More coverage here.
4) Matadero Theater and Library
Dark walls and flooring in the interior of the Matadero Theater and Library are illuminated by bright lights set in contrast for a dramatic effect. This incandescent library is located in Madrid, Spain. More coverage here.
5) Philological Library of the Free University
Located on the campus of the Free University of Berlin in Germany, the Philological Library was designed in the shape of a human brain by architect Norman Foster. The library’s collection is over 700,000 volumes. More coverage here.
6) Kanazawa Umimirai Library
Located in Kanazawa, Japan, this stunning library building is perforated with 6,000 holes in its concrete exterior which are filled with glass to provide natural light to its 12 metre-high reading room. More coverage here.
7) Seattle Central Library
Seattle Public Library’s Central Library branch is a stunning 11-story, glass and steel information mecca. With over 1.5 million books in its 4-story “Books Spiral”, 400 public access computers, automatic book sorting and conveyance, and self-checkout for patrons, Seattle Central embodies the idea of the modern library. I had a chance to visit this library last month while attending the AALL Annual Conference and it was absolutely breathtaking. More coverage here.
8) Dalian Public Library
Located in Dalian, China, this modern library was designed to weave itself into the surrounding ground area in order to root itself and create a series of courtyards and topographic undulations, drawing visitors in to its unique environment. More coverage here.
9) The Royal Danish Library (The Black Diamond)
An extension of the Royal Danish Library, the largest library in the Nordic countries, the Black Diamond sits on the waterfront of Copenhagen. The black granite exterior reflects the water of the harbor and it absolutely stunning. I was lucky enough to visit this library when I was in Copenhagen, and it’s a sight to see! More coverage here.
10) Nam June Paik Library
Made up of cubes of transparent blocks, the Nam June Paik Library in the Nam June Paik Art Center in Yong-In, South Korea holds 3,000 books and exhibition catalogues as well as periodicals and audio video materials. This unusual space houses reading areas, computer stations, video screens and book shelves, all of which are incorporated into the library’s transparent blocked walls. More coverage here.
WinCo is a midwestern chain of worker-owned stores that consistently underprice WalMart, while still paying a living wage to their staff and decent prices to their suppliers. Their secret appears to be a smaller selection of goods, sourced directly from factories -- but surely the fact that they're not extracting billions in profits for a family of rapacious plutocrats also helps keep prices low.
Burt Flickinger III, a reputable grocery store analyst, called them "Walmart's worst nightmare." They provide health benefits to all employees who work 24 hours per week or more, as well as pensions. They are expanding into Texas, and Time's Brad Tuttle predicts that they'll double in size every five to seven years.
Prices are kept low through a variety of strategies, the main one being that it often cuts out distributors and other middle men and buys many goods directly from farms and factories. WinCo also trims costs by not accepting credit cards and by asking customers to bag their own groceries. Similarly to warehouse membership stores like Sam’s Club and Costco, and also to successful discount grocers with small stores like Trader Joe’s and Aldi, WinCo stores are organized and minimalist, without many frills, and without the tremendous variety of merchandise that’s become standard at most supermarkets. “Everything is neat and clean, but basic,” Hauptman told Supermarket News. “Though the stores are very large, with a lot of categories, they lack depth or breadth of variety.”
While all of these factors help WinCo compete with Walmart on price, what really might scare the world’s largest retailer is how WinCo treats its employees. In sharp contrast to Walmart, which regularly comes under fire for practices like understaffing stores to keep costs down and hiring tons of temporary workers as a means to avoid paying full-time worker benefits, WinCo has a reputation for doing right by employees. It provides health benefits to all staffers who work at least 24 hours per week. The company also has a pension, with employees getting an amount equal to 20% of their annual salary put in a plan that’s paid for by WinCo; a company spokesperson told the Idaho Statesman that more than 400 nonexecutive workers (cashiers, produce clerks, and such) currently have pensions worth over $1 million apiece. Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/#ixzz2bjdwYQC9
This is actually a pretty reasonable stand. Credit cards are a terrible deal for merchants. The transaction costs are extremely high (compared to cash or debit cards). Credit cards are great for consumers with the discipline to manage the cards & not carry balances (rack up those points!) but also debt-traps for people who can't. The "responsible" users of credit cards who benefit from point systems are essentially subsidized by fees on merchants (& people who fall into the debt trap). Fees on merchants require price increases, which means everyone shares the extra cost imposed by credit card transactions but only some credit card users & the credit card issuing banks benefit.
Last week, a team of researchers led by Geoffrey Kabat of Albert Einstein College of Medicine published a study showing that each additional 4 inches of height increases the risk of all types of cancer by 13 percent among post-menopausal women.
So, how do we know when librarians have hit the big time? Lego has introduced a Lego Librarian – part of its minifigures series line. This line of minifigures is an eclectic group. Series #10, which the librarian belongs to, also includes a warrior woman, sad clown, and a paintball player among others. In fact, the librarian is the only viable career option in the set! How cool is that?
There are 150+ minifigures, only about 10 require a college degree, so the librarian is in rare company!
Here’s the Lego Librarian [screen capture from the Lego website]:
The official Lego Librarian, part of Minifigures Series 10.
OK, so it plays into several librarian stereotypes…but I would expect nothing less. The Lego character must be easily identifiable to the public: “Oh yeah, THAT is a librarian!” So, what do we have?…
Sensible hair? Check.
Coffee cup that reads “Shhh!” Check.
Oranges and Peaches
The creators went to some lengths to add a bit of fun. There’s even an inside joke in regards to the “Oranges and Peaches” book. It’s a reference to the 1995 movie Party Girl starring Parker Posey as a library clerk. In the scene below, a patron asks for Darwin’s Origin of Species. The Parker character mistakes it for “Oranges and Peaches”:
A Biographical Story
The Lego Librarian comes with a brief bio. Again, it plays into some trite stereotypes, but it’s fun:
Books are just about the Librarian’s most favorite thing in the entire world. Reading them can take you on exciting adventures in far-off lands, introduce you to new friends and cultures, and let you discover poetry, classic literature, science fiction and much more. If only everybody loved to read as much as she does, the world would be a better place…and quieter, too! The Librarian feels that it’s extremely important to treat a book with the proper respect. You should always use a bookmark instead of folding down the corner of the page. Take good care of the dust jacket, and don’t scribble in the margins. And above all else, never – ever – return it to the library late!
It’s no surprise that the Lego Librarian is female. It should be. We’re a female-dominated profession. It makes sense. But I wanted to have some fun, so I decided to to see if I could make the librarian version of me – Mr. Library Dude. It was not hard.
I grabbed the Lego computer programmer minifigure. He’s wearing a sweater vest and glasses. Doesn’t that scream male librarian? I actually think I have that EXACT sweater vest! I added an iPhone (those who know me never see me without mine) and I invented the Mr. Library Dude Lego Librarian:
This is Mr. Library Dude.
Lego Librarians on Parade
So besides the official Lego Librarian version and my knock-off, how might we portray other librarians in Lego form? Or what other ways are we perceived by peers or the public? I decided to take a stab at it and had a bit of fun. Maybe you even know a few of these. So here’s my satirical take. What would you add?
Note: Naturally, the LEGO images below are popular with children. Please be forewarned: there is a bit of cursing below.
“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.” :)