I spent the day in Delft DOK. This is a fantastic space – popular with children. It is a creative environment where customers are surrounded by books, art objects, musical instruments, and technology. The interior is painted with citrus colours that give the place a zingy atmosphere – and direct customers towards an interesting part of the library. Red is for Love and also for Romantic Literature.
Turning left on entering the library, you come to a wide staircase that connects the ground and first floor, leading customers up into the café. The café is for working, reading, sitting, watching, and eating and drinking. It is a collaborative workspace that provides customers with a view of other customers – a space to watch people.
The library is set up perfectly for parents with young children. The children’s area is a few steps from the café. It is also a few steps from the lift that takes parents with toddlers, prams and bags from the ground to the first floor. On exiting the lift, parents can park their prams in an allocated space, where there are hooks to hang their toddler’s coat. The nearest toilet is adjacent to where they hang their todder’s coat.
Parents can sit on a table that looks like the kitchen dining table that one has at home. They can sit, talk, and watch their children play with the soft toys in the play pen in front of them. Some parents even work on their laptops – or answer e-mails on their iPhone – whilst watching their one year old totter around.
The sound from the children’s section travels to the café … but not much further. The adult section remains quiet as it is tucked on the other side of a wall. The teenage section is on the opposite side of the space. It is protected by a wall of sound and popular music drowns out the noise from other sections. From the floor above, staff have a good view of the café and adjoining children and teenage sections.
It is not surprising that the library is expanding the children’s section to other areas. In comparison with other areas, the children’s section is a hive of activity, and it is bursting at the seams.
At a time when it is difficult to secure government funding – libraries have to dedicate themselves to the customers that appear to need them most. If libraries are consistently attractive to parents with children then this group of customers will also determine how the library is designed in the future…