I chose to analyze the Carnegie Library for this project. It’s an amazing space laid out in an amazing building. In the simplest terms, I see it as one big environment that houses many small environments, and all the environments found there are different types of quiet environments. I didn’t realize that there could be so many different types of quiet environments, but when you focus on different users and different contexts, quiet is only one variable among many that you have to design for.
It is evident that the environment was created with the user in mind because immediately I noticed that the majority and most commonly used resources could be found on the first floor. Universal accessibility is extremely important in a public space because its extremely hard to predict what the capabilities of your user will be. By putting the most popular resources on the first floor, the library becomes much more welcoming and easier to use.
The Carnegie Library really is an amazing combination of historical architecture and twenty-first century technology and design. There is such a sense of openness and exploration. I really enjoyed exploring the mezzanine because it gave me a sense of adventure. The library is supposed to be a very tame and regulated place, but the amount of learning and exploration is incredible. There are an infinite amount of resources for people to use. Just few examples are:
- comic books
I was really amazed at the wealth of resources that were in the library. It goes beyond the books to classrooms and creative spaces where anyone can grow if they choose to participate.
The layout of the library is focusing on the wide variety of users and understands that users have an infinite number of preferences. People work differently, have different interests, sit differently, read differently, learn differently, etc. The Carnegie Library is really successful in accommodating for all types of people.
Photos of some of the environments
Work stations and gateway to magazine area and outdoor patio
Outdoor patio view from inside
Quiet study room, second floor
Audio and Media Room, second floor
Class room in use
Silent reading and international poetry room
Microfilm and geneaology, third floor
The library doesn’t have its own mobile application, but they are registered on an application called Access My Library (AML). You can do a general search, a database search, and an eBook search. However, there is zero reference to any context or the library environment. This digital environment is completely isolated and has minimal connection to the physical environment.
What I said concerning the mobile application can also be said for the online website. It feels very disconnected to the actual library. There are many public libraries in Pittsburgh affiliated with the Carnegie Library, and the website addresses them as a general entity. There is some reference to what you can generally find at the library and what events are happening, but this digital environment is mainly concerned with what information is available to the user instantly on the internet.
Floor maps and a ‘virtual’ tour (photos with descriptions) of the library are the only pieces that refer to the physical environment.
There really is no hybrid environment that is happening between the library, the website and the mobile application.
What I really want to focus on are the different types of learning environments in the library. All the digital environments mainly reference the resources and information that the library contains; however, the different physical environments are not an area of focus. My initial idea is to publish online an archive and analysis of all the different environments housed in the library. This way, people know what kind of places there are to sit and work in, and hopefully, they will be more inclined to visit.