Design of public libraries

In 1960, the architectural correspondent of London’s Times newspaper praised contemporary architects for having evolved what he called “new beauties”: attractive, modernist buildings created out of new techniques and approaches to style and structure. This presentation features a particular set of these “new beauties”: British public library buildings of the 1960s, both large and small.

In the 1960s, public library design finally broke free from its Victorian heritage. The new library buildings that appeared in this decade, clothed as they were in the architectural modernism of the time, reflected an age of optimism and intended modernisation, when faith in the post-war welfare state was at its height, when hopes for technological and economic renewal were running high, and when the outlook of professional librarians was becoming increasingly progressive.

“New Beauties”: The Design of Public Libraries in Britain in the 1960s was presented by Alistair Black, professor of Library & Information Science at the University of Illinois.

The paper which formed the basis of this presentation was published in the Summer 2011 issue of Library Trends, edited by Black and Nan Dahlkild, which is devoted to the subject of “Library Design from Past to Present.”

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