Bookish – The Outdoor Library and Ocean Sound

Probably not a very good title for a post seeing as a lot of things I write about will be book-related. I will be more creative in future! Anyway, a couple of days ago I discovered a stunning library (actually, I discovered several, but I am holding back in case you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of awesomeness). Today’s library of interest is Huntington Beach Library, CA.

Huntington Beach Library

Huntingdon Beach Library – Photo by Vuphatt on Flickr.

Beautiful, right?

What I love about this space is that it’s trying to let in as much nature as possible! The façade is almost entirely glass which lets in a wonderful amount of natural light, you’ve got water running right up to the windows and there are plants everywhere!

It’s generally agreed that nature relaxes people. If you would like a little bit of science to back that up then check out Kuo and Taylor’s (2004) study which suggests that spending time in more natural surroundings can reduce the symptoms of ADD in children. I am coming at this design from a recent graduate perspective; the library was where I spent some of the most stressful hours of my life and there was the occasional pot plant around but definitely not enough to diffuse my dissertation stress.

What this building made me realise is that for most of my life studying has been a very “indoors” affair. I’m sure many of my friends will remember being told for the umpteenth time in secondary school “yes, the weather is very nice but, no, we are not going to have classes outdoors”. You learned to lump it. Then, before you knew what had happened, you were a teenager and bits of grass are a pain and dirt is to be avoided outside of sports classes. This is a shame. I don’t understand why it is important to stimulate children and let them study outdoors and read books with pictures and sound effects, but with adults the attitude is generally “cut them off from all stimuli lest they get distracted!” What is this hogwash?!  I like picture books as much as the next 3-year-old! I also had a strange revelation last summer; I couldn’t remember the last time I got my hands really dirty. That afternoon I did some extensive gardening with my dad without protective gloves (rebel) and I rubbed some soil on my face for good measure; I was so sick of the feeling of being sanitised.

What I like about this library is that it blurs the boundaries.  This library lets you connect with the outside world but the environment is regulated so don’t have to worry about fleeing from bees or wasps. And, personally, I don’t like silent study sections; they make me feel guilty for breathing a lot of the time and I don’t have noisy nasal passages! So the sound of water flowing would be a wonderful addition to any library. Perhaps it will make you thirsty too which is a good thing; one of the key afflictions that students suffer from on long study stints is dehydration.

And because this building is right next to the ocean, that makes today’s Song of the Day rather appropriate!

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