May 19, 2008
I went to the new champaign public library. It sure does alot to impress. The opening requires one to weave confusingly to enter in the main library. Inside one is greated with a corbusier scale interior that looked like it was refined by groupius. Unfortunately its evident that shelves were an after thought. Its a two story warehouse with no really effective system of partitioning space.
Thats not to say it doesn't look nice. It looks very classy. The rest of it is in good taste and theres several fun surprizes. But nothing makes up for bad room by room planning.
Interestingly enough the second floor is populated by wifi users on their laptops. Lots of them holding some sort of meeting at the table. The building is rather quiet even for a library, though i can't tell if its reverence or good acousitics. I see similar behaviour in cafe kopi downtown champaign everytime i visit. More and more people seem to be using public spaces as rented working areas. This as far as i can tell doesn't happen on campus where it only appears that people study and not actually work. I can only wonder how this relates to the new "culture of renting" that I keep on hearing about. Maybe coffe shops are good investments when the economy favors small scale organizations.
I keep on searching for outdoor spaces designed for study or work. There are few and in fact all of them have to be shaded to be laptop friendly. One such spot is a neglected garden area on the northwest side of the engineering hall. The seats are very comfortable. You have many more options if you just choose to read a book, but even then i find that hard to do laying down on grass or anything. Also, these days books are printed on paper that is almost shiny its so white. Older books used to age a bit but these don't turn yellow at all. I dont want to sound like some old japanese lament of the modern but really the aging of a book is a beautiful thing, and in bright sunlight these new books reflect so much light back from their disturbingly white covers that its unreadable.