Looking at the Project for public spaces website I wondered if the only good places to live are expensive ones ;-)

Nevertheless, it is nice to see their emphasis on libraries. They like New York Public Library but not the BnF (although some of the comments disagree with their assessment).

They note the contribution a public library can make to effective public spaces.

But if we look upon these elements as interrelated components of a single place, we create more opportunities for local people to collaborate and jointly create a vision of what's best for the community. How can the street, park, library, and businesses support and strengthen each other? What do business owners, library employees, and nearby residents envision for the area? By simply observing and listening to the people who live or work or play in the area, the solution to what the place needs will become apparent. [Project for Public Spaces (PPS) - Placemaking for Communities - What If We Built Our Cities Around Places?]
And link to this LA Times story about public libraries in south LA:
"Libraries tell a community that they're valued," said Peter Persic, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Public Library. "What it tells people is that whether or not they live in Hyde Park, the Palisades or Porter Ranch, they have equal access to information and resources." [Library Gets a Warm Welcome]
Glancing over these, I was reminded of Ken Worpole's work with public libraries and place in a European context (see here, here and less recently here for example). See his library photo gallery. He also has interesting materials on other public spaces, among them lidos, which includes a couple of picture of the wonderful Brockwell Park Lido which we lived near for a while in London.

Update: referencing this entry, I notice that the links in the last paragraph are broken. Ken Worpole now has a different web presence.

Comments: 1

Jan 14, 2005
John Kirriemuir

I was in and around LA for a while last May, and out of curiosity went into three public libraries. Oddly - maybe it was just random - the collection and "feel" of the library was inversely proportional to the neighbourhood.

The one I went into in South LA had obviously received a lot of funding for all manner of print and IT content (funding for libraries in deprived areas?). On the other hand, the library in affluent Santa Monica I found quite drab and lacking in resource.

As a counterpoint, the one building I went in on that trip, that I wish had been a library, was the Getty Museum, high on the hills overlooking LA. One of those rare places that, just by being in, makes you feel a better person.

I live on Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, a long chain of islands some way off the west coast of Scotland. The library here is of the mobile variety; it comes every other friday at lunchtime, stops outside your house, and you can borrow up to six books. Inter-library loans are free, so I am taking ample opportunity to work my way through many of the great works of literature. Proust is unfortunately an excellent cure for insomnia.