Bishan Library is one of Singapore’s newest public libraries, opened in September 2006. It’s a suburban public library in a shopping precinct occupying 4,000 square metres spread over five levels. The pods protruding from the façade are meant to evoke the idea of a tree house and are highly prized private spaces for working and relaxing.
Bishan Library’s distinctive pods also feature in the atrium
The entry level ground floor of Bishan Library contains a reception desk and magazine area, a café and a self service checkout area. There are no book collections on this level.
90% of loans are self service in Bishan Library.
The ground floor café in Bishan Library
Storytime room Bishan Library
Bishan Library has its share of fun and ‘funky’ signage.
There is a whole floor for Young Adults in Bishan Library – the top floor of the building. The circular shelving was particularly impressive.
Opened in July 2007, Amsterdam Public Library is the largest in Europe at 28,000 sq m. The idea behind the design was to move from the concept of the library as just a lending institution to the concept of the library as a place of adventure, a great place to be in. In addition to the main Amsterdam Public Library there are 27 branch libraries ranging in size from 700 to 1,500 sq m. Together they serve a population of 800,000. The aim is one library per 30,000 people. The Amsterdam Public Library is built over ten floors and is one of the tallest buildings in low rise Amsterdam. It’s also brilliantly located not far from the Central Railway Station.
Looking down from the ground floor to the children’s area in the Amsterdam Public library. It’s a huge area – an entire floor – indicative of the importance given to investing effort in the earliest years. The area speaks for itself – the beautiful warm wooden floors, the custom-made curved shelving, the attention to detail … note the items sitting on top of the shelving units. The broomsticks and witches hats were displayed for Halloween, placed on top of the shelves, where they were both out of the way and could be seen from the best viewpoint – looking down on the area from the floor above.
This fabulous shelving unit has a spiral staircase and a loft for young readers. Fantastic.
More technology on the library floor, especially for little kids.
On the ground floor in Amsterdam Public Library – a huge magazine and lounge area. There’s also a small café. It’s a floor for relaxing.
There’s an enormous number of public access PCs on the multimedia floor (there’s 600 throughout the entire library, many of them Apple Macs). The setup and seating is varied, comfortable and always stylish. The fit-out of Amsterdam Public Library looks ‘high maintenance’ and there is provision for a continuous refurbishment program taking place over a ten year period. Note the escalators used both for transport between floors and unmissable yet discrete signposting.
A small private study space on the multimedia floor. These pods are soundproof, but I’m not sure how comfortable anyone would feel perched in one of them.
An information desk
The service area in the restaurant is like a fabulous market place. There’s a balcony for dining outside on good days and for taking in the views across Amsterdam. As the library is one of Amsterdam’s tallest buildings, this balcony provides some of the best city views.
DOK – Library Concept Center is the main library in Delft, a regional city of around 100,000 people. It’s located in a recently refurbished supermarket situated in the heart of the city. Almost 80% of the population use the library.
Customer self service check-out of library materials
The low cost shelving is custom-made from recycled timber, painted in bold colours. A lot of thought has gone into the signage, furniture and fittings in DOK, while the shell of the building is unlined bare concrete
At the top of the staircase there is a large open light-filled space, furnished with casual tables and chairs and with room for exhibitions and events.
The Children’s Room is a 600sq m facility located in the heart of Stockholm, on the top floor of the Kulturhuset (Culture House). Such is its popularity (300,000 visitors per year) that the library has had to install a traffic light in the window. When the light displays red, customers know that the library is full and they will have to either wait to come in or come back at another time.
The Brown Room is for 4-7 year olds. It’s an extraordinary place for playing, exploring and reading, built like an adventure playground with books.
Looking down on the entrance to the Malmo Library. The foyer and the adjacent magazine/newspaper room and café open very early in the morning, well before the library proper opens, providing a range of services to people on their way to work. In the foyer customers can use the internet or choose and borrow books from a small selection on display. They can grab a coffee/breakfast from the adjacent café, or catch-up with the news in the nearby magazine/newspaper room. Aside from offering an extended service to customers, the foyer internet access and book displays keep this large area from feeling intimidating. It’s friendly and lively.