Redefining the library for today’s needs

Submitted by digital on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 15:22
{"version":"0.3.0","atoms":[],"cards":[["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458746386\/kszgvmefm3dpmn3hmhsp.jpg","id":"1866"}],"caption":"The library was designed to be heavily modifiable; these great steps can also be used as an auditorium or a theater where the children put on plays."}]],"markups":[["a",["href","http:\/\/\/practicing\/awards\/2015\/library-awards\/hillary-rodham-clinton-childrens-library\/"]],["b"],["a",["href","http:\/\/\/","target","_new"]],["a",["href","https:\/\/\/wiki\/Gang_War:_Bangin%27_In_Little_Rock","target","_new"]],["em"]],"sections":[[1,"h2",[[0,[],0,"\n\nThe\nHillary Rodham Clinton Children\u0027s Library \u0026 Learning Center isn\u0027t just for\nbooks"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The word \u0022library\u0022 brings to mind shelves\nand shelves of dusty books, with several stray computers off to the side and a\ntweedy, bespectacled librarian overseeing it all. In 2015, however, the\nmajority of the world\u0027s books are available for download on mobile devices, via\nGoogle Books, Project Gutenberg, or some other repository waving the banner of\nfree and open access."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"How can a bricks-and-mortar institution like a\nlibrary survive?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"A first step is to expand beyond the written word and\nfocus on learning, which is far more basic than even books to the whole\nenterprise. Many libraries have already done this by creating media centers and\nbeefing up their audio-book offerings. Secondly, libraries must serve the\ncommunity in more ways than one: Find out what your neighbors feel is essential\nto a library experience and make those things accessible and convenient."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"These are the guiding principles of the Hillary\nRodham Clinton Children\u0027s Library \u0026 Learning Center in Little Rock,\nArkansas, the recipient of a"],[0,[0],1," "],[0,[],0,"2015 AIA\/American Library Association Library\nBuilding Award and\npart of the vanguard of libraries that are repositioning themselves to\nemphasize interactivity, hands-on education, and life skills."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[1],1,"Teach your children well"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The project was the brainchild of Bobby Roberts, the\ndirector of the Central Arkansas Library System and a visionary in developing\nthe right library for the right area."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022Over the years we\u0027ve designed several of his\nlibraries,\u0022 said Reese Rowland, FAIA, a principal at Little Rock-based\n"],[0,[2],1,"Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects"],[0,[],0," and lead on the library project, \u0022and he\nreally understands how the work can transform a neighborhood, how it can really\nbe a visual catalyst for change.\u0022"]]],[10,0],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Change was a necessity in Little Rock; the Children\u0027s\nLibrary was built in part to bridge a longtime city divide created by a\n40-year-old interstate highway that split the city in two\u2014a scenario that has\nplayed out in dozens of U.S. cities and a boundary that has come to represent\nsocioeconomic imbalance in Pulaski County\u2019s largest city. In fact, that very\nborder was featured prominently in a "],[0,[3],1,"1994 HBO documentary on street gangs"],[0,[],0,"."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022We acquired six acres of rolling, tree-filled\nland that had been abandoned,\u0022 Rowland added. \u0022So we didn\u0027t have to\ntake anybody\u0027s land, and we used the remnants of a terrible interstate decision\nand made something really positive out of it.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[1],1,"Turn the page (and add a kitchen)"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"In preparation for designing the library, a charrette\nwas held with a group of city kids. When asked what they\u0027d want in terms of\nprograms, one response stood out among the rest: \u0022Teach us how to feed\nourselves.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"For children who\u0027d gone their whole young lives with\ninconsistent or unavailable meals, the knowledge of how to buy food, clip\ncoupons, or even heat up soup was paramount. So a teaching kitchen was added to\nthe design, along with a greenhouse and several gardens."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022The kitchen is the size of two full home\nkitchens, open enough to bring in 20 kids at a time,\u0022 Rowland said.\n\u0022The idea is to grow in the garden or the greenhouse, harvest those items,\nand show the kids how to prepare them.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Beyond those services, one of the project\u0027s ambitions\nwas to achieve timelessness. Slapping stickers of Disney characters on the\nwalls would date the building, assigning it to a certain period in a child\u0027s\nlife rather than serving as an adaptable space. Rowland and his team produced a\nstructure that resembled an old barn\u2014a large area that could be programmed and\nreprogrammed."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022Like a barn, it holds many things over the\nyears,\u0022 Rowland said. \u0022The volume changes over the years, but it\u0027s a\ncontainer. And this is a container of information.\u0022"]]],[1,"blockquote",[[0,[],0,"\u0022We used the remnants of a terrible interstate decision\nand made something really positive out of it.\u0022 Reese Rowland, FAIA"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The barn idea plays out in two other ways: It\u2019s a\nfamiliar sort of space where, even if you didn\u2019t grow up on a farm, you\ninstinctively understand the typology. Secondly, what would have been clapboard\non a barn has been replaced by generous windows that bathe the interior with\neven, natural light."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022Our design focuses on giant windows, open\nspaces, and a friendly environment,\u0022 said Sarah McClure, manager of the\nlibrary. \u0022It\u0027s designed to stand the test of time.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"So far, all their hard work is paying off: Almost\n100,000 people came through the library\u0027s doors in 2014 to take part in over\n800 programs designed for adults and children alike."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022People visiting from different states are wowed by\nwhat we have to offer,\u0022 McClure said, noting that the library is emerging\nas both a local community anchor and an important regional resource."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u0022Projects like these are like children,\u0022\nRowland said. \u0022You nurture them and then you let them stand on their\nown.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n "],[0,[4],1,"Steve Cimino is the digital content manager at the AIA."]]]]}
Located in Little Rock, Ark., the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library & Learning Center is fulfilling the community’s needs beyond just books and media centers.
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