Libraries as a facilitator of community engagement in the urban environment
Libraries are essential elements to the life of our communities as they provide many assets to community members and act as catalysts for civic engagement. Tightened government budgets in the United States have threatened the ability for libraries to prosper in our communities. For years, the program of the library has been redefined to help validate its need as a member of the public infrastructure. The various technological advances of the past thirty years, as well as a need to bridge the digital divide that has occurred due to these advancements, have fueled these changes. The power of the library to engage the community and provide opportunity is unrivaled by any other typology. How can contemporary libraries maintain their power of the historic typology, address contemporary needs, and adapt to future changes? Through design analysis of significant historic community libraries such as the Carnegie Libraries, observational analysis of contemporary library design, and interviews with library professionals and patrons, design strategies are considered to address the needs of a contemporary public library. The goal is to present architectural design strategies that are forward thinking, learn from the past, and help to maintain the typology of the library within our communities.