On a + note

Welcome to our living room! #15: 2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on May 23, 2011

At Guelph Public Library, we’ve been busy creating people spaces in our very worn out 1965 Main Library. In the “front of house” (to quote Mickey Mouse), we have created more welcoming and inviting spaces for our customers and “in the back of house” more efficient spaces for our staff.

To improve our front of house, we’ve weeded and shifted the 160,000 volume collection to create a main street. Now, when folks enter the library, they can actually see where they want to go and not just rely on signage.

We’ve rearranged the furniture so there are open and inviting seating areas in front of the windows and ‘cozy’ seating nooks. We’ve added table lamps, plants, and area rugs to better define the people spaces and warm up the library. We dusted off five beautiful old Carnegie tables (the kind with the turned legs) and added them to the quiet reading area. Staff dug out the old wooden Carnegie bookshelves from the basement, had them refinished, and installed them beside the old tables. Individually, the tables and bookshelves are not that special, but as a group in the old Main Library reading area, they are spectacular. Just ask our customers!

At the front of house, we’ve decluttered the information and circulation desks. We’ve added a regularly changing display that often includes memorabilia and a bit to whimsy. They promote our collections and services and also put a smile on the over 600 folks who come through our doors each day.

In the “recreation room” downstairs, we’ve added a small flat screen television to showcase our amazing A/V collection, some comfortable seating, and a few plants. The result is a surprisingly welcoming space. Plus, we’ve splashed around some colour on the walls to create accent areas behind the circulation desk and in the stair wells. These minor changes have allowed us to give our customers space and seating with natural light. Customers grow best in sunlight!

The response to these cosmetic improvements has translated into increased borrowing over the last two months, more donations ($900 this month), and a lot of positive comments (which, in turn, has put a “perma-smile” on staff faces).

Welcome to Guelph’s living room.

Kitty Pope #15 May 2011

3 Responses to 'Welcome to our living room! #15: 2011'

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  1. Bill Manson said,

    It’s great to see GPL moving forward. Congratulations to you, your Board and your staff. Keep it up. We need it.

  2. Jacqueline said,

    I love all of the changes that have been taking place at the library. It is a much more welcoming atmosphere, a place where you’d want to linger. The updates are so refreshing.

    Thanks GPL, for your initiative and hard work!

  3. Dorothy said,

    I was away during the last regular due date of books and had someone else return them for me. Perhaps the changes are less visible to folks who have been there throughout – but I was really impressed and found myself feeling very comfortable in the space. Great work all.

    And I don’t want to dampen enthusiasm for the new look, I just do want to say I found one physical challenge that had me thinking my next library visits might be to an outlier branch.

    As someone who loves a good “new to the library” paperback and has a bad back, having my head turned sideways (and sometimes it felt like upside down) to get through the books on the twirling rack was downright painful. Please consider seeing if there’s anything else a bit more accessible that could be repurposed for use.

    (I’m so sorry to mention it, and now I’m thinking perhaps I could have waited for a little bit so as not to tarnish the glow on the amazing efforts everyone is putting in — and yet, I know I’ll want some new books soon and Main does have a really good selection….)

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