A little while ago I took the opportunity to visit the new(ish) library of the University of Liverpool in London. I was interested in what a local branch might look like and for ideas of interesting student spaces.
There is a strong grey black white theme which feels a bit hotel / business formal which links to the subjects taught locally and a “London” experience (it was also a dark early evening when I visited).
There is a variety of different furniture broadly split into a casual area, formal desks and computer rooms. A range of informal activities were on offer aimed at relaxation / community building. It made things feel warmer and a student came over for a chat and a biscuit (and asked some questions while she was there). The large, low slab type sofas were not terribly comfy (but recent feedback from students was positive and they were used).
I liked some of the finishes – there was a really nice feature wallpaper that raised the overall feel in spaces where it was used a lot. Some corners ended up being a bit dark due to the colour scheme though I could see people liking that (and they were used). Interview rooms are an interesting place specific arrangement – students and academics can meet in a neutral space with doors into the library one side and academic space on the other. This is interesting in the light of experiments underway in Bush House (not visible externally) to pilot different ways of bringing staff and students together. It did have a slight prison / police vibe that I was not too sure about but again tied in to some of the topics taught on site.
Generally there were the kind of regular self serve facilities you would expect. The laptop charge cupboards were sometimes used as temporary storage lockers which is not something we have noticed in charge boxes but worth keeping an eye out for. I would like to try bringing some of the more tailored hotel vibe back into libraries at work.