Computers in Libraries 2007: Darien Library

Library of the Future [I say this in my head with a 1950’s announcer voice]
Darien Library  [all I hear in my head on this one is Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame talking about Aryans from Darien.]

Customer service is their first priority, along with “Extreme Customer Service”  [ack. Kill me now. Hatehatehate “extreme”]  Good principle — be the first of the new libraries, not the last of the old libraries.  And you must be able to tolerate uncertainty.  [heard that one already.]Floorplans:  first level is children, new materials, fiction, cafe, and community room.  “most active” areas.  Is an intentional attempt at “interior streetscape” or marketplace feel, with flowthrough and action on first floor.  Built in literally empty space for future expansion on the lower level, along with tech svcs and computing, and put “traditional library” on the second floor, with reference library, periodicals, and nonfiction.  Mezzanine level includes the equivalent of group study rooms and meeting areas.  Top floor = trad library, first floor = community/popular library, basement = power library.

Lots of green initiatives, with water recycling and daylight utilization and other cool stuff.  Designed to be a building that “belonged in New England”.  [nice touch]

Lots of technology in the library, complete with individual and interactive environments, and staff and public usages.

Staff offices are not on main public levels — “too precious to use for staff” [flies in the face of standard thinking, which seems to be that we must be where the patrons are at all times.  Otherwise, how on earth might they find us? /snark]

The success of the building is credited to a good building committee as well as great architects, who can handle the conflict between change and continuity.  Must understand which facets of libraries, the environment, and missions are permanent (or slowly changing), and which are more rapidly moving forward — so that you know what to adapt to.

“A whole lot of compromises to build this building” “YMMV” “Not just put some technology over what was a building to make it new” — there are extraordinary examples of great technology over existing plans.  They wanted to be seriously different than that.  And, “If we fail, there are thousands of libraries in America who can learn from that.”

“No librarian omnicient”

six layers of technology — infrastructure, administrative, staff, patron indirect, patron direct, p2p.

RFID materials handling systems as major change to improve workflow and efficiency.  “skip the RFP process.  Have each competitor design to your needs, quote a committed cost, and justify how that will meet your needs.”  [dude.  The state of new york would disagree, but, well.]

“Workflow managers, not clerks”, with a small workspace to deal with exceptions.  No cataloging, no circ back office, no big TS office.  Let the machines do the work! [holy outsourcing, batman.] Anytime anything’s on a booktruck, it’s not getting to a patron. “If we have fewer booktrucks, maybe we’ll have fewer people pushing them around”  {I’m certain I understand his point, here, but that’s a bad, bad way to phrase it.  Because, see, I could discard 90% of our booktrucks, and they’d just stack books on the floor.  It’s about workflow and process change, not booktrucks.]

Direct patron ordering, where you either give it back to the library and pay $5, or you keep it and pay the library’s purchase cost.  [Rock. On.]

No desks — no circ, no reference.  Self-check and roving assistance. “No more defensive positions”, instead concierge desks.

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