#476 A library that struts its stuff

Kansas City Public Library Community Bookshelf

Kansas City Public Library photo by Caleb Zahnd, via Flickr Creative Commons

When a photograph of the Kansas City Public Library’s Central branch popped into my inbox, I laughed in delight. A row of enormous book spines runs along one wall of the library’s parking garage. The titles on the spines of what is called the Community Bookshelf reflect some of the interests of the city’s readers.

This architecture is so, well, not boring. The book spines are a perfect declaration of a book lover’s reasons for hanging out in this treasure trove of knowledge. The rest of the building has a sort of grandeur that says, “Important institution.” It has its own beauty, but it’s the book spines that catch my fancy.

Of course, that’s not all there is to this library branch. In addition to physical and digital collections, it offers workshops, lectures, classes, story times, and movies for all ages. In other words, it is just what a public library should be: responsive to the interests and needs of the community and moving with the times.

But it is those huge book spines I keep coming back to. They make me re-think architecture and wonder why more buildings can’t be whimsical and inviting. Facades like this could transform our cities, make them friendlier. They might even encourage people to look each other in the eye and smile. After all, it is fun to share our reactions to something out of the ordinary.

The Kansas City Public Library gives me hope.


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