Libraries as “landmarks, booksmarks, and people-marks”


Northfield Public Library

The New Republic has a rather lyrical review of library form and function: The Revolution at your Community Library.  Focusing on the architecture of community libraries, Sarah  Williams Goldhagen presents examples of “a new building type with a deceptively familiar name.”  In so doing, she also elegantly captures the evolution in libraries from a civic repository to places which “offer what no other contemporary building type provides: vibrant, informal, attractive, non-commercial community places where people of any age, class, gender, race, religion, or ethnicity can gather, and can obtain access to resources vital to full participation in contemporary life, including but not only the Internet.”

Northfield Public Library is all these things even if its physical form is still firmly rooted in its Carnegie repository history.  When it comes time to renovate and expand the library – the physical enclosure is getting pretty tight – it will be an interesting opportunity to hold on to the historical roots, status as civic icon, and create spaces which continue to foster “full participation in contemporary life.”

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