Evolution of Public Library Zhao, Sheng
What arguably defines and makes the library distinct from other public institutions is that it ‘stores’ recyclable entities of value and freely lends it to the general public for their benefit to reduce social barriers. This is a uniquely defining feature of the public library and it’s critical as it’s part of the public-civic sphere; its existence, condition, and relevance arguably defines the identity of public society. Today, the main item of the public library’s storage and loaning is arguably book. However, with the usefulness of the printed format to be a source and storage of information declining with the rise of ubiquitous online digital information, the existing public library institution arguably needs to be re-articulated. The public library has existing social-functional value for society and how it can develop from its current challenges and value is explored. This study explores how the public library institution, in context to it as a public civic space, can architecturally-programmatically transform into the future to develop its social value and to further evolve public space & society. By defining the true value of the public library institution, this research explores a reimagined future function and form of the public library in a new prototype institution-space that better benefits the society and community it serves. This research draws from public library history, case studies, and analysis of its social value-context to understand the definition and significance of the public library institution, to propose a preliminary redefined public library program-form, and to conceive a design guide for a new public library ideal benefiting public civic space and the community. This research will explore this by looking at the public library in a North American context through a simulated case study in Vancouver, considering its impacts in a larger urban context, and abstract simulation studies. It is proposed the public library can develop as an agent orientated heterotopia, fragment spatially-architecturally at finer scales urbanistically, expand its traditional definition, architecturally develop as a ‘binder’, and develop its sharing culture in context to redefining public civic society.
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