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How to build a modern library

Slate has a regular slideshow column, and it’s always interesting. This week it tackles the architecture of libraries, and how library design has had to change since computers defeated books by a score of 6 to 2 in 1993.

The author, Witold Rybczynski, says that while a library isn’t the first place people go for information anymore, it’s still an “urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information.” So library designers have to rethink the stuffy reading rooms of the past, replacing them with more flexible reading spaces, lots of computers, and, of course, cafés and shops.

Seattle’s already-famous new library looks pretty inviting, featuring an airy, Rem Koolhaas-designed space for reading.

Denver, meanwhile, settled on a reading room anchored by a massive wooden structure, which looks like a Tesla coil that shoots pure, crackling knowledge at the terrified citizens of Denver. Now that’s how to build a library.