Blog Prompt # 2-Central Public Library
Find a social design issue. Document it. Become an advocate for it.
I chose to visit the new Central Public Library in downtown Minneapolis and document it as a social design solution.
First, of all, the building itself in absolutely incredible. It was designed by architectural team Cesar Pelli and Associates. The 353,000 sq. ft. building is 5 stories. Four stories are devoted to the library and the fifth story will be home to the new Minneapolis Planetarium, which is scheduled to open in 2010. The library has a green roof which adds much needed greenspace to the downtown area to help clean the air. The building also has no interior load bearing walls so it will be adaptable as public needs and technology changes. The facade is wrapped in translucent and transparent glass which is meant to represent seasonal imagery such as snow, water, and ice. The interior space is very bright, open, and welcoming.
The new library should benefit the community in several ways. First, the library is very accessable to anyone who rides the bus, light rail, ect. This is important because many Minneapolis families have no access to a car. The library offers 300 computers for patrons to use the internet. I am sure many residents do not have internet access. I cannot imagine how different it would be to find a job if you had no internet access AND no transportation.
The library also has an enormous collection of...books. I guess I should have mentioned that first. I heard that there are the equivelant of 38 miles of books housed at the new library. That's a lot of books. Librarians use an electronic shelving system to keep the books organized and save space. I was impressed by the selection of books for learning language. There is also a resource center for non-English speakers at the library to help with their English skills. The Children's area also stocks books in 30 languages.
The library also features community gathering rooms which can be booked by the public, a children's area, an area specifically for teens, the language resource center, cd's, dvd's, a grand piano which I am assuming people are allowed to book times to practice on, art on display, and classes and special events.
I felt that the new library was a very welcoming space and I am excited to spend more time there. The only downfall is that since downtown parking is so limited, you have to pay to park and it is quite expensive. 3.00 for the first hour and $1.00 per hour for every hour after. At first I thought this was insane to charge to park at the library...since it would make it more difficult for low income people to have access to the library. But I don't know any way around that really. If parking was free, everyone working downtown would park there and library patrons could not find spaces anyway. The downtown location is great for those who use public transportation, but not so great for those who drive. But really those who use public transportation need convenient access to the library the most, so I suppose the public is well served.
It is wonderful to see the public's needs so well served by this civic building because Minneapolis has the fourth largest population of library card holders of the cities in the U.S. Also, 80 % of Minneapolis children have a library card...the the other 20% can get one any time and probably will want to if they visit the new Central Library.