Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sense of Place

Krone Library, Idyllwild Academy during Summer Program

What defines a sense of place?
     Famous structures can define a sense of place: the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, Disney Concert Hall.
     Emotional connections can create a sense of place. Think of your favorite eatery. It might not be glamorous, but I’ll bet it makes you happy to even think of it.
     Libraries are designed to give a sense of place. And, if they are successful, you feel a sense of belonging when you step inside. Whether your quest is to find an answer to a question, a respite from stress, or to check your email, a library with a sense of place is a beautiful thing.
     I found myself appreciating the Krone Library at the Idyllwild Arts Academy during the Summer Program. Unexpectedly stranded on campus after class, in a mood (much) less than congenial, I entered the library. A two hour wait stretched out before me,and I wasn’t sure the library had anything to offer.
But its calm surrounded me and I noticed:
•it’s quite comfortable stretching out on this blue seating area.
•art books are scattered on a generous pedestal table; ready for browsing.
•a $1 book sale is set up on the study tables (who can resist?)
the windows frame a series of naturescapes, each worthy of a sketch or painting.
•interesting things are happening on campus: concerts, exhibits, artist’s talks, art openings, and the library has flyers, postcards and information about them.
•it’s not so bad in here.
     I left thinking, “what a nice place that library is.” An unexpected lesson for a librarian, but its value has stayed with me. The importance of place. A whole list of attributes merge to create a sense of place; some tangible, some abstract. But when it works, you notice.
     Here at Prep today, in the Chandramohan Library, I overheard a Peer Counselor remark, “this is the library, the rockin-est place on campus.” That reminded me of Krone library, not because it was the rockin-est place (that’s reserved for Prep’s library) but because it had a sense of place. And I think that’s the lesson: the importance of place. When it works, you notice.

-Mrs. Eldridge

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