By the time I began this project, the redesign of the teenspace at the Southeast Regional Library (Maricopa County Library District) in Gilbert, Arizona was something long overdue. For years, there had been talk of a redesign- to the point where focus groups were gathered and recommendations were made. In 2013, the Friends of the Library decided that they wanted to fund the project, and I was brought in to lead that charge.
This was my second redesign of a library space, and, initially, I’d planned on replicating my initial success in the new area. But, immediately, that didn’t work out. For one, the teens at this library had already been consulted and had requested some things. Also, the way the area was built made some things rather difficult. So, while I definitely wanted to bring in some elements I knew worked in the other redesign project, this one would require fresh eyes.
The heart of this space is the 50’s-style diner booth. This was the one piece of furniture that the teens had requested, so I used it as a starting point for the rest of the space. I based the color choices on the classic red and white vinyl of the booth, which ended up being a really good idea. The area really stands out from the rest of the library (in a really good way). In addition to the bright, bright reds, we used a lot of whites and grays to keep everything from becoming garish and “look at me I’m trying too hard to be cool.”
The red wedge chairs can be moved around and grouped into couches, or split apart for individual seating. Like the North Valley Regional space, I wanted technology to be a focus. The tech bar here features laptops, which were chosen specifically because they were different than the rest of the desktop PCs in the building. We also mounted two iPads to the diner booth, and put a dedicated gaming station (PS3) on the end. The shelving was decreased in size and the collection was weeded to make it more browsable and accessible.
By far, the most troublesome part of the space was the presence of two huge cement pillars. Every floor plan we tried felt crowded by them. Finally, I decided to treat them as a focal point rather than an eyesore- with a few cans of specialty paint, we converted one pillar into a chalkboard and the other into a whiteboard, making them perfect for both social and study use.
When the space was completed (since named “The Vault” by local teens), we had an inviting space that invited socialization and collaboration. The Vault is always occupied, and every feature is utilized to the fullest. It is a thing of beauty.