Why do all libraries look alike?

Why do all libraries look alike? I’ve been thinking a lot about our conversation in class last week about why all libraries need to look alike. Our society gets great comfort when libraries look alike, and the stereotype that gives. There are many great libraries out there, and the grandeur of an old library is hard to ignore. For some reason, the design of the library gives a comfort, and is associated with intellect. It’s like what we talked about in class–the Starbucks affect.

And while I don’t doubt the positives, I wonder if the sameness is what’s holding the library back. We’ve been talking all semester how many people think libraries are only about books, you have to be quiet, and librarians just sit behind the computer, and just live for Dewey.

Not that I know much about marketing, but packaging, labels, designs are all effective ways to get a person to buy a product. Companies change designs over time to draw new audiences, and to re-brand. Maybe the sameness of the library does not allow for new perspective and change. If the library keeps staying the same, the patron who doesn’t know much about library services, why would they think things have changed over time? Of course, we know that libraries have changed in many ways, but maybe the sameness is hindering the public’s view of changes. I’m not saying we should radically change every structure, and it would be impossible to do so. But libraries need a new image.

Sameness lets you know what you expect. Like McDonalds. Same design all over the country. No matter how many changes McDonalds tries to make, no matter how many apple slices they offer, my opinion remains the same that the food is horrible for you. Obviously, I view libraries differently than just taking it for face value. But my opinion of McDonald’s hasn’t changed despite their changes. I have an existing view and per-conceived notions that are hard to change. Library patrons have per-conceived views as well, and despite changes it’s hard to change.

So is the design a hindrance or a help? Will the majority of people associate libraries with change, if we don’t change it? Or does appearance even matter  when so many changes are happening already, and over time a new image will form?



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