The Library as a Hybrid Building: New Forms and Complex Programmes

By Charlie Smith.

Published by The International Journal of Books, Publishing, and Libraries

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 23, 2015 $US5.00

Libraries are evolving in response to a multitude of influences and they are increasingly becoming hybrid buildings. Their traditional functions—to store and lend books and provide areas in which to read—are being combined with other roles. Within their walls, diverse programmes of activities are being created which reflect increasing complexity in society and culture. This paper discusses the hybridization of libraries and explores the impact it might have on their traditional role as an important civic landmark. The methodology makes reference to a broad church of research on library design. Whilst it is generally accepted that libraries must adapt in the context of digital cultures, some have cautioned over libraries becoming “mongrel” buildings. How might this diverging role of libraries undermine their identity and what they symbolise? Particular reference is made to theoretical library projects designed by architecture students attending a UK university, which have explored what potential roles libraries might play in the future, as well as built projects. The paper will advance understanding about the ways in which libraries might evolve, what forms they might take in the future, and what the impact of hybrid programmes might be on their identity as civic buildings.

Keywords: Libraries, Design, Future Directions

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.29-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 23, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.921KB)).

Dr. Charlie Smith

Senior Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK