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Libraries & Space

Myself and four fellow graduate students decided to collaborate on an independent study that would allow us to explore a broad theme an discover where problems exist, as opposed to being given specific problem spaces to explore as had been the case in our coursework to that point. We began simply with the theme of “space” and let our exploration go from there without any specific theoretical framework. We narrowed the context to libraries and then identified problem areas within that context. We concluded with the generation of design concepts that addressed the identified issues. Additionally, it was this research that motivated one of my teammates and I to continue on where we left off and collaborate on our thesis project in the following year.

January 2003 to May 2003
Independent Study
School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
[This research project was a collaborative effort between four fellow graduate students and myself.]

As the team members split off into smaller groups to identify design solutions, I paired up with another team member to focus on a design solution for working within the library space. Of the opportunities and needs we identified, it was important that our solution promote information literacy and allow of the gathering of material from many sources. We wanted to provide a personal space within the library that would allow researchers to bring together the activities of searching, collecting, and filtering behavior—all within the stacks which can then be opened to the activity of synthesis as well as storage. Our solution was a rolling cart with a series of shelves for storing selected books opened to their relevant pages and a large desk surface for writing and a laptop computer that can be used for searching the book catalog.

As we conducted our initial research, I performed cursory research on ritual uses of space and wayfinding. All of this research fed in to research conducted by the other team members to help us build a broad understanding of the issues related to space. Once we identified the library as a space rich with opportunities, I constructed a historical timeline of the types and usage of libraries since their inception as archives in early Mesopotamia and Alexandria to the modern libraries that we know today. Throughout the process I conducted many interviews with librarians, architects, library patrons, and database managers. This all resulted in an analysis of our findings that led us to the design solution that focuses on enabling the synthesis process to be integrated with the searching, collecting, and filtering or resources.