Friday, March 1, 2013

Scope For the Imagination: Book Spaces

I ran across an amazing link while trolling through my Facebook feed the other day. Titled "The 30 Best Places To Be If You Love Books" (<= Click it to see!), it has pictures of 30 book-spaces ranging from private home libraries to public and academic libraries to used book stores. Some are more modern in design, with geometric lines and huge windows to let in plenty of natural light, like number 27 on the list:

Others are more organic and earthy like number 6: (House on the Rock Wisconsin)
Doesn't this look like a hobbit home? Its pure gold.

While all the locations on the list are places that I would want to visit just for the experience of being in the presence of such a great volume of books, there are some that I would prefer over others. I've never been fond of libraries that have cool color palettes.  Something about stark greys and whites seems cold and un-inviting, and though probably not practical and "green" I've always preferred the warm glow of incandscent lamps to the weird hum and unnatural pallor caused by fluorescent lights. A book-space, whether a library or shop, should be warm in color and in atmosphere. Russets, browns and golds are good colors for library decor, as they emulate the richness of old-leather bound books. A good book-space should inspire and spark creativity. It should entice visitors to come, and encourage them to stay. The imagination and soul should be fed as much as the mind.
This one (number 25. The Hearst Castle Library) is a good example:
Here I think, my thoughts would be very profound indeed.

Also, as much as order and organization is important in a book-space, there's something inviting about an organized mess. Not in an academic library of course, where people actually need to FIND things, but rather in the case of a used books shop, where people mainly to browse, casually looking for one item, but coming away with a half-dozen, none of them the original object of pursuit. I imagine that number 5, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris (Currently my number one reason to go to France) is this kind of book shop.
Isn't that just a glorious inviting mess?

These are some of the extremes and rare gems of the book world and if every place were like these, then they wouldn't  be as special. But I think that our library, (the Bryan Library) is a nice happy medium. The colors are warm and welcoming, there's comfortable seating and good lighting. It's just as a good academic library should be in my mind.

Until next time (which will probably be earlier in the week as I leave for Spring Break on Friday), Happy reading!

P.S. Tomorrow (March 2nd) is Dr. Seuss' birthday!

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