Although the third floor of Alden Library has undergone some renovations in the past few months, this has not stopped the students in ART 3620 Interior Architecture Studio IV from using the original floor plan of the Frederick and Kazuko Harris Fine Arts Library as a tool for imagining and designing a new future for fine arts libraries.
What began as a simple assignment, use the Fine Arts Library’s floor plan as a guide for designing a fictional art library of the future that meets changing user needs, grew to become an opportunity to showcase student work. According to Dan Harper, assistant professor of interior architecture in the School of Art + Design and the instructor for the ART 3620 course, the display has also urged viewers to submit feedback via a comment box located near the display.
This feedback has sparked discussion about the many resources and services Alden Library provides to the University. For Harper, this kind of dialogue is a valuable and critical part of design education.
While the designs presented in the display were entirely created by students, they were not alone in the research process. Katy Mathuews, head of collections assessment and access,and Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education services, were guest speakers for the class. They each provided the students with insight into library operations, staffing, and shared research and data on the history and future of libraries. The collaboration with Michele Jennings, the art librarian on the third floor, was also critical to the success of the project.
“Since the students used the third floor building shell as the foundation of their projects, we hoped that exhibiting the projects in the space would provide viewers with a visual reference for the architecture,” said Harper.
For Jennings, having the display on the third floor creates an interactive experience for viewers, provides them with a chance to experience the students’ abilities to imagine something radically different for the future of fine arts libraries, and allows viewers to experience the activities that are already taking place on the third floor.
“It’s important for me as the [art and design] subject liaison. This collection in part serves to support the curriculum of interior architecture as well as the School of Art + Design. For me, it’s a really great opportunity to engage with the students, to see what they’re working on, and to envision ways that I can continue supporting the curriculum beyond buying books,” said Jennings.
It is her hope that the display will inspire faculty, staff and students to bring their work to the Library. In Jennings’ opinion, the Library is more than just a place for books and studying, it is a holistic space, an integral part of the university experience for students, and has the potential to be a venue for collaboration.
All photos by Stephen Zenner/Ohio University Libraries