Info-elevators by Ben Rubin
We Make Money Not Art, a great blog reporting on the world of media arts, has a post about the elevators in the new Caesar Pelli designed Minneapolis Public Library. Designed by Ben Rubin, in collaboration with David Small, the elevators (two of them) will be fitted with LED screens that display the titles of items recently checked out.
WMMNA Post (Be sure to check out the link to the animation.)
For more library info-art, check out George Legrady's Making the Invisible Visible, a series of LCD screens for the Seattle Public Library that display analysis of the data stream from the library's circulation servers.
It's of course a big perk to have fancy graphics in a fancy new building, but there's something at least a little deeper going on in projects like this. Info displays like Rubin's and Legrady's add another layer to the architecture of these libraries by exposing the otherwise hidden structure and flow of data that represents the library's role in a more immediate and intimate way. These installations tell the story of the exchange of information between public and public institution far more easily and directly than the physical structure of the library building could express. The glass and steel and brick still needs to be there to offer (increasingly rare) public space and keep those books dry, but revealing the previously obscured sub-structure of circulation data lets people in on the real workings and purpose of their library. Maybe by doing that libraries can convince us that they are a still necessary and vital part of our culture and environment.