It was suggested today in The Times that some critics aren’t happy about the massive popularity of the British Library. Apparently young people are being drawn to its front doors by a ‘groovy magnet’; attracting them to ‘hang out’ at the library; chat over coffee, meet new people; access the internet, even request books! Oh my!
I think it’s great that young people feel comfortable enough to spend time in a space where they can soak up “the world’s knowledge”. But at the same time I can understand why some are cautious about the success of the redesign.
That said, I visited the British Library recently and although the café and the reception area were quite busy there were plenty of helpful staff on hand to assist visitors in finding what they were looking for. I also found that I could easily locate a quiet space to read, observe and reflect…
Access for all is brilliant and the British Library seem to have struck a nice balance between appealing to a wider audience and retaining core values, but I wouldn’t want there to be further ‘disneyfication’ of this great institution!