Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

August 2014

Publication Title

IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge


Youth, Libraries, Space, Design, Research


Library and Information Science


Given recent technological innovations the notion of serving teenage populations obliges libraries to aspire to new design and spatial visions. Youth, historically not deemed entitled to an equitable share of public environments, has frequently been viewed as creating conflict in libraries, or as librarian Lynn Cockett observed, “Inviting young people to a library that is architecturally not prepared to handle normal adolescent behavior can have some pretty negative consequences.” Even under some of the best design processes, however, a kind of “Naïve Triangle” develops: architects, who frequently know little about libraries or youth aesthetics, work with librarians (with little architectural backgrounds or knowledge about youth spaces) try to work with young people (who know little about libraries or architecture). The results are seldom distinguishable from conventional designs. This paper presents the first evidence-based research in pursuit of spatial equity for youth in libraries: surveys and video transcriptions from librarians and youth involving new libraries built between 2005-2010 in the U.S.. It focus on three important topics: the degree to which libraries incorporate youth participation in space design; youth seating options; and, what young people tell us is most important about library spaces designated for them. This project also launches discussion in architecture, urban planning and design, and education, among other fields, provoking connections between space, culture, history, and power. The library’s physical environment thus represents valuable spatial capital. And in such discussions libraries do not need to follow. They can lead.


BERNIER, Anthony (2014) Informing the “Naive Triangle": Evidence-Based Transformations in New Young Adult Library Spaces. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 203 - Metropolitan Libraries. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.
The paper can also be found online at this link.