And the Back of the Envelope, Please . . .

The winners of the Chronicle’s “back of the envelope” contest to design the Bush library are in. Some of the submissions were imaginative, others were satirical or angry. Some played off the resonances between the idea of a library and the Bush administration. One went beyond the confines of the envelope and attached a “signing statement.”

One of our librarians taught a January term course on The Library as Place; it was fascinating to find out what students (some of whom were not heavy library users) thought a library should look like. They tended toward the traditional, with an affinity for dark woodwork, study tables with lamps, and lots of books.

If you had a design contest for your library, what would your students submit? Your faculty? Would they reflect frustrations or dreams? It might be interesting to find out.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

One thought on “And the Back of the Envelope, Please . . .”

  1. Take a look at Foster and Gibbons’ _Studying Students_ for examples of other ways that students envisioned library spaces, complete with fireplaces, bean bag chairs, and latte bars! I’m hoping to emulate some of the studies they did with our students here, though since we don’t have any grand plans for redesign at the moment, we probably won’t ask about library design. More likely is the camera project (students are given a disposable camera and take pictures of a list of things, places, etc. to do with their lives and their research practices) and/or the map project (students are given a campus map and asked to map out a typical day, showing each building they go to, the route they use, the time they arrived and left, and what they did there).

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