Friday, May 28, 2010

Seeing through a visitor's eyes

Sometimes first time visitors to my library comment on how beautiful it is and I smile, say thank you or some such and immediately think of all the ways the architecture is unsuitable to a library setting. There's the dim lighting over reference desks and much of the stacks. The open, circular staircase in the center of the building which allows sound to travel from first floor to the floors above, sound that can be cacophonous with crying kids and loud cell phone users. The shortened open third floor allows sound to spill over into sections of the second floor disturbing those patrons who are studying or reading; and of course second floor noise carries up to the quiet areas on the third floor.

Well, the other day my perspective changed when before the library opened a coworker beckoned me out to the public area on the second floor and pointed to the windows at one end of the building. There I saw what I hardly pay attention to, something visitors notice, and it filled me with joy. Spring green trees framed in the morning light by the stained glass windows that reach straight up from second floor to third. It was breathtaking.

Over the next few days I looked around at the rest of the library differently. I stood in the circular tiled rotunda looking at the smooth polished wood framing the curves of the central stairs, up, up to the far domed skylight on the 4th floor. From the magazine area on the second floor I saw the rich red wood of the third floor ceiling, curved in a wave pattern. The two oversized carved chairs - usable art pieces. I'm with the patrons - I think it's all beautiful.


  1. Marvelous, Margaret! Thank you for sharing this. It is easy to take the daily niceties for granted, and stop seeing what is in front of oneself.

  2. Thanks, Margaret, for posting these gorgeous pictures. While the architecture of our libraries doesn't always produce the optimum environment for every patron, we're lucky to work in buidlings, new or old, that invite us to stop and contemplate.