Here at Supple we’re passionate about library design and what is going to make libraries sustainable into the future.  So, we’re always on the lookout for new libraries that are leading the way into the future.  The first library we designed and built library furniture for, the Council Tree Branch in Fort Collins, CO within the Poudre River Library District, was one of these forward thinking libraries.

We just read a great article written by Cat Johnson about an extraordinary project – Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library) in Almere, Netherlands.

Face out displays are more typical of retail merchandizing than traditional library stacks

The New Library face-out displays are more typical of retail merchandizing than traditional library stacks

Guided by a crowd sourcing campaign to allow the design to be led by the future users of the space, the designers and the administration team were able to bypass traditional methods of organization, as they were led toward a design closer to retail merchandizing.  They group collections by areas of interest, combining fiction and non-fiction in the same area, display books face-out, and train their staff in marketing and customer service techniques.  They have an active café, extensive events and music programing, a gaming facility, a reading garden and more.

A casual, relaxed atmosphere invites patrons to prolong their stay at the library

A casual, relaxed atmosphere invites patrons to prolong their stay at the library

The New Library has surpassed all expectations about usage with over 100,000 visitors in the first two months.  It has been called one of the most innovative libraries in the world.  Here at the Supple Collection, we’re not particularly interested in innovation that brings notice for fame sake, but it sounds like this project is actually bringing innovation that is going to help libraries around the world figure out ways to keep themselves vibrant and relevant – and that’s what we are excited about.

The bustling café has become a thriving space for residents of Almere

The bustling café has become a thriving space for residents of Almere

Roy Paes, manager of the library’s Science Desk, and his colleague Marga Kleinenberg, shared some great insight into how they decided to move in the design direction they did.  “Our customer groups turned out to be much more diverse than we thought. Our survey also showed that 70-75 percent of the customers did not visit the library with a specific title in mind. They came browsing. That insight [confirmed] that we wanted to entice the customer. Hence the retail techniques and the many places to read, sit down etc. Our goal was to extend their stay…  The number of visitors surpassed our expectations. We had 1,140,000 of them in 2013. But we must always work on improvements. New challenges, for example, are finding a way of creating a good supply of e-books, and how we can develop more digital services, including facilities to share knowledge.”

The 'reading garden' allows clientele to digitally connect, thereby helping to grab the attention of a younger demographic

The ‘reading garden’ allows clientele to digitally connect, thereby helping to grab the attention of a younger demographic

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