I believe in Space…and Desire: Jessica Begley on library design

A guest post by urban planner turned librarian Jessica Begley. What can libraries do to help users make the most of their spaces?

Like the Pixies, I believe in Space.

I have been fascinated by how and why people use space, and how subtle design can influence behaviour, for as long as I can remember.

As a teen, I merged this interest in social geography with psychology and came up with a degree in Urban Planning and Design.  I was going to change the world. Improve open spaces. Create spaces people felt happy in.  The reality I found was far from my planned dream. Rows of brickwork, overshadowing, trellis screens, and complaints all dominated my day.  Not even I liked the spaces I was approving.  Approving, not designing.

Fast-forward fifteen years.  I am still an urban planner, but only in my mind.  I have been trained to look at spaces, movement of people, land use, all in a certain way.  I can no longer look at a space like an ordinary person. Taking my kids to the shops, the park, the library, I analyse the flow of movement through space.  When I see conflicting uses, I see a design-based solution. When I see desire lines – the unplanned paths naturally taken by people in any setting – I read them.

Read more