Facing declining visitors and uncertainty about what to do about it, library administrators in the new town of
Almere in the Netherlands did something extraordinary. They redesigned
their libraries based on the changing needs and desires of library users
and, in 2010, opened the Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library), a thriving community hub that looks more like a bookstore than a library.
Guided by patron surveys, administrators tossed out traditional
methods of library organization, turning to retail design and
merchandising for inspiration. They now group books by areas of
interest, combining fiction and nonfiction; they display books face-out
to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing
and customer service techniques.
The library is also a Seats2meet (S2M)
location where patrons are empowered to help one another in exchange
for free, permanent, coworking space, and they utilize the S2M Serendipity Machine
to connect library users in real-time. They also have a bustling cafe,
an extensive events and music program, a gaming facility, a reading
garden and more. The result? The New Library surpassed all expectation
about usage with over 100,000 visitors in the first two months. It is
now considered one of the most innovative libraries in the world. Read more....