The Norman Transcript

Local news

July 14, 2007

Library architect talks about challenges, moving forward

By Carol L. Cole

Transcript Staff Writer

Communities that build new libraries weave their way through a difficult but rewarding path, said Jeff Scherer, a nationally award-winning architect with the Minnesota-firm Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle Ltd., consulting Norman on its hopes and dreams for a new, state-of-the-art library.

Many people think it might be a hard way to make a living — to spend years in meetings, often with contentious factions, to design one of the 250 libraries built nationwide every year.

“It’s actually the most rewarding thing,” Scherer said in a recent interview. “That’s the ultimate contribution. You can’t create something that powerful without a lot of work.”

He said Norman’s current library, built in 1965, has three distinct problems design-wise, totally aside the condition issues.

“One is circulation — how you move in and out, how people naturally navigate through space,” Scherer said. “Ninety percent of individuals veer to the right … It’s just this natural arc of walking. … And if we have circulation checkout right in the path of the entry and there is a line going to checkout, then there is mixing going on that’s blocking and pushes people off to the other side.”

Another problem is the zoning of noisy and quiet activities. It’s difficult to keep the two types of activities separated in the Norman library’s cramped space.

“It’s not intentionally noisy but just naturally noisy, just computers and printers and the reference question desk and stuff,” Scherer said, not to mention classes and storytimes.

The third issue is there is no space for those who want to meet together.

“There is a strong lack of space here for individuals to be together and talk to each other for homework helping and tutoring and people doing research projects together,” Scherer said.

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