Friday, June 28, 2013

Muhlenberg Library offers More seating to Patrons

A few weeks ago I was in Chelsea's  Muhlenberg Library and noticed that finding  seating in the adult area was  getting pretty tight.


Looking at this map, it 's easy to see why,  most of the libraries in the middle of Manhattan are on the east side.

Also 2 book retailer superstores, which acted as defacto reading rooms (the barnes and Nonel on 6th @21st, and the Borders at 7th and 33rd) recently closed down. So the Muhlenberg branch with its very limited adult seating capacity(30 people)  has to serve a rather large and increasing in size area reading population.

According to Muhlenberg head librarian Ashley Curran, library patrons brought up the need of extra seating to her and she found a solution for it by shifting and consolidating the collection so as to add room for additional seating.

Here is shown the  front book stacks were taken out and replaced by 2  new tables and chairs.

Now here's an interesting coincidence,  beyond the recent addition of more seating indoors, more seating outdoors at the library has also recently been installed. A few weeks ago as part of the New York City Department of Transportation's  Citybench program a new sidewalk bench was installed in front of the library. This has created a place to rest for people like the woman below who has knee problems

 and it has also created a defacto  outdoor reading room for patrons.

Going from defacto to authorized: Idea 1
Most people passing the Muhlenberg Citybench think it's just for sitting.  I was thinking, what about adding a sign to let people know that the bench is also meant for reading and wi-fi access. This  will increase its use as an outdoor reading room.

If the city will allow the placing of a sign(below) on the bench, or the library outer wall, it will make more obvious that this spot can be used as an outdoors reading room

Proposed Muhlenberg Public Library Graphic

Update: Due to impending construction under the vault in front of the Muhlenberg, the bench has been temporarily removed

Going from defacto to authorized: Idea 2
 Currently you have to  check your reading material out from the library before you can read it outside or  bring your own reading material to the "reading room". More reading convenience may be possible by following the example of some other institutions...

Here's a Reading cafe from a library in Australia,  the book cart is very moveable.

There's a small cart with an eclectic collection of books for sale outdoors at  Chelsea's Revolutionary Books, and a bench is also in front of the store .

And here's the Bryant Park Outdoor Reading Room with moveable racks  offering books, magazines and newspapers to people sitting outdoors in Bryant Park.

Stocking the Outdoor Reading Room 
Take a Book Leave a Book

If we can actually get NYPL to agree to a movable cart for the bench, the next question becomes how to stock it.

One thought, rather than have the proposed  Muhlenberg Outdoor Reading Room being stocked exclusively by the NYPL, how about it becomes Chelsea's first community book exchange where residents can take and leave items to read?
The Little Free Libraries  concept of Take a book, Leave a book  with over 5000 LFL's installed worldwide show that this mode is a viable way to do this. Little free Libraries do not always come with adjacent seating, here's 2 examples that do.
  a Little Free Library adjacent to a bench.

A Little Free Library  with adjacent chair seating, part of the PEN World Voices Festival in NYC,  designed in conjunction The Architectural League of NY

Pickup Lockers
In addition to stocked  outdoor reading rooms, adding pickup lockers to these rooms, can turn them into satellite  library sites.

-The addition of the defacto Muhlenberg outdoor reading room seating has increased the libraries adult book reading seating capacity by  10%, not bad for an item that cost the city under $400.

-If we can get the NYPL to install a movable reading materials holder placed in front of the Muhlenberg, it will enhance the  usefulness of Chelsea's  new outdoors library  reading room.

 Lately, I've noticed reading has lost its gusto! As virtual realities and games becoming increasingly prevalent, reading and literacy must be redefined as a fun, engaging experience. An aesthetically pleasing, outdoor reading room can begin to accomplish that-. Books for the People

see also  Outdoor Reading Rooms aka Read-Fi Hotspots