Library Design: “New Library is Temple’s Most Compelling Work of Architecture in Decades”
UPDATE September 20, 2019 Another Review of the Temple’s Charles Library is Now Online. This Time from Architectural Digest: “Snøhetta’s New Library for Temple University is a Soaring Ode to Knowledge”
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Walking through Temple University’s new, sun-drenched Charles Library, two things you notice right away: First, it’s a quiet place, even by library standards. And, second, hardly anyone has a book in front of them. I counted barely a half-dozen of those quaint analogue objects in use during a recent visit. Yet the four-story building was packed with students — hunkered over work tables, curled up in easy chairs, conversing with friends in the cafe, almost always with a laptop serving as a third appendage.
Very few of those people actually needed a physical library to do their schoolwork. Temple’s campus, like those of most American universities, has no shortage of spaces where students can plunk down a laptop and access the cloud’s virtual storehouse of information. But in the weeks since school began, some 35,000 visitors a day have been streaming through the doors of the Charles Library, according Joseph Lucia, the dean of libraries. That number is roughly equal to Temple’s entire student population.
Designed by the New York office of Snohetta, an international firm known for its thoughtful, people-centric buildings, the granite-clad Charles Library is easily the most compelling work of architecture Temple has produced in decades. Actually, it is easily one of the best new buildings in Philadelphia. That doesn’t mean it is without flaws. But the level of ambition is something new for Temple.
One the smartest moves, however, was the decision to forgo electrical outlets on the work tables, eliminating the usual tangle of adapter cords. As an alternative, visitors can rent 10-hour battery packs and fully charged laptops from vending machines. To the university’s credit, it has installed a bank of desktop computers on the ground floor for public use, a recognition of the digital divide that exists in the surrounding North Philadelphia neighborhoods. The building could probably use more.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.