Ohio & King Library.
I’ve been in Ohio for the past few days visiting a friend from college who is teaching and working on her MA in English at Miami University (OH, not FL). Fall has struck hard here and the leaves are perfect. Yesterday I had a chance to visit King Library, the main library on campus. Ho-ly-cow. It’s beautiful!! Wonderful facilities, great interior design, and an excellent variety of spaces.
- Clear, clean and creative signage. I was very impressed with their stacks signage, something that I’ve been thinking about lately with our upcoming renovation at Millersville. The large sign above the Circulation desk was also really well done, with all of their major services available at that desk listed (Reserves – Laptops – Study Rooms – Check Outs). I didn’t see any 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of paper stuck up with tape. Most signs were of high quality (engraved/etched) and anything that was printed seemed to be laminated or in a clear plastic holder.
- Natural accents. I also noticed that they used a lot of natural wood, for shelf end-caps, tables, etc. It really does a lot to brighten the place up compared to darker woods. They also utilized natural lighting which makes everything more inviting, and lots of strategically placed plants.
- Functional, appealing furniture. Instead of placing book carts around the stacks for books students are done with, they have small tables. It looks really classy! And it can’t be that much more work, because the staff can just push a cart around and collect the items instead of grabbing all those carts. It looks clean and cute, and you could probably get similar ones from Ikea (and cheap!). I loved all the curvy s-shaped couches – with footstools! The footstools are key, having them makes it soo much more comfy, especially with a computer on your lap. Another great idea was to outfit most of the large walls with an artwork hanging system. You may have seen a system like this in place at art galleries or in museums. It looks like a strip across the wall and then you hang framed artwork on thin wires. It’s great because you can do so much with it without being tied to banging nails into the walls (virtually ruining them and locking you into the same location every time even if you change the pieces). This might not seem clear, but I included a picture below. Great example of flexible design!
So the moral of the story is that even though I don’t go to this university, even though I didn’t even look at their collection of books or online resources, even though I didn’t use any of their services or ask any questions, I had a great experience there.The look and feel alone were enough to make me want to be in that building for coffee, to hang out, and to do my work (I was there for about 4 hours using their guest wireless which had no connectivity issues, was unlimited, didn’t require me to log in, and worked seamlessly with my Mac). Because I felt so comfortable with the surroundings, I would certainly feel confident approaching a service point with questions or if I needed help. Although I could have probably experienced similar spaces on campus with the same look and feel, the library should (and in this case does) have more investment in creating positive spaces. Why? Because if students feel comfortable there, if the space is meeting all of their needs, that confidence will spill over into their interactions with librarians as well as information. Creating a more beneficial experience for everyone, no?