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Public and Private Library Provision and Architectural Design in the 21st Century

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Emily Simpson
Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool | UK
Today’s society is one which has access to a much wider range of sources for pleasure, entertainment, information and learning however the only way in which public libraries will survive during this generation is to provide an alternative to the existing entertainment and leisure that exists today. With the Internet’s greater convenience and our changing society, are public libraries valid during this digital age?

This study explores the provision and architectural design of public and private libraries in the North West, focusing on Liverpool and Manchester, their past, present and future, particularly concentrating on the demand and requirements in the 21st century. The study focuses on the main factors involved with public and private libraries, namely the need for public libraries to continually adjust and revise their service for a constantly changing society, and the need to embrace the rapid development into the digital age and make libraries ‘attractive’ to the younger generations. The study also examines the ‘fossil-like’ nature of private libraries and discusses how they can survive without evolving. The study seeks to explore how architectural design is used in order to satisfy the ‘new service concept’ and how it can to bring both past users and new users, particularly the younger generations, into public libraries, as well as discussing how technology has played it’s part in their design.

The main body of this study comprises four key case studies, two of which compare the Liverpool and Manchester Central Library developments tracing their history from their conception, after the Libraries Act of 1850, to their recent redevelopment, designed by Austin-Smith: Lord and Ryder Architecture respectively. The two further case studies examine the histories of two private libraries, the Athenaeum in Liverpool and Chetham’s Library in Manchester, from their origins up to their current state, focusing on the private nature of them, and how this has affected their design.

Emily Simpson

Stephen Bowe
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