New libraries

On Wednesday, I visited four new libraries in and around Vancouver: Lynn Valley Main Library, District of North Vancouver; the North Vancouver City Library, City of North Vancouver; the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia; and, Langara College Library, Vancouver.

Lynn Valley Main Library

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Lynn Valley Main Library, part of the North Vancouver District Public Library. From inside the multipurpose room of the library (which can be used after library hours) I took this photo of the central plaza which will have retail and offices. Those specks on the windows are etched words. You can see photos of the construction at http://www.nvdpl.ca/About/NewLVlibrary.htm.

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The Lynn Valley Main Library (on the left) opened Dec. 8, 2007. The community was enthusiastic about building this new library which was intended to be part of a vibrant town centre and gathering place– a true living room of the community.

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Inside the Lynn Valley Main Library. The library’s three floors are wrapped in windows, and there are many spectacular views of the mountains. This building is the District of North Vancouver’s first green civic building, and the library is seeking LEED Silver certification.

Features of the library that meet LEED certification:

Sustainable Sites: minimal impact on undeveloped land; cleaning of soil contaminants from previous site resident; central location to transit.

Water efficiency: low flush plumbing and dual flush toilets

Energy & Atmosphere: efficient heating and air conditioning system; energy saving lighting; abundant use of daylight throughout

Materials & Resources: reducing, reusing, and recycling related debris during construction; concrete used as primary building material; efforts made to use building materials of recycled content; use of energy efficient insulation and window glazing

Indoor Environmental Quality: use of low emitting carpets, paints, sealants and wood finishings; use of green cleaning products; carbon monoxide monitoring

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Each area in the Lynn Valley Main Library has a unique architectural accent, in this case, the Teens area is marked off with the yellow ceiling fixture.

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A patron is using the RFID self checkout service. RFID stands for “radio-frequency ID” and RFID tags allow for remote scanning of the book’s ID and security tag setting. By comparison, barcodes require a line-of-sight scanner to ID a book and security is handled by a separate tag or metal strip.

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The self checkout table has an RFID tag reader, a receipt printer, a library card barcode reader, and slots to insert bills and coins. Debit and credit charge capability is coming. Lynn Valley Main Library reports a nearly one hundred percent success rate for patrons using self checkout.

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RFID is also used for returning books. While the library is open, books can be returned and fed into this sorting machine. The RFID tag is read and the item is diverted to the correct bin.

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Items can be inserted one at a time into the sorting machine. I attended a session at CLA on RFID that was presented by Edmonton Public Library. One common issue in setting up an RFID book return is the importance of choosing a good location for the sorting machine. According to our tour guide, Lynn Valley Main Library should have had the RFID book return closer to the entrance and therefore closer to the circulation counter where staff can see if people are having problems. After hours, this slot is closed and a regular book drop is used. Edmonton Public Library discovered that staff can save time by retrieving books from the regular book drop and feeding them into the sorter which was positioned close by in the same room.

Edmonton Public Library looks forward to the other major benefit of RFID: quick inventory checking, since one can walk along the shelves with an RFID scanner and be immediately alerted to missing books and books out of order.

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A computer screen indicates when the bins are full for the RFID book return sorting machine.

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The RFID tag combines an antenna, a security strip, and some memory. As mentioned in the other RFID session presented by Edmonton Public Library, concerns over privacy has meant only the minimal amount of information is put on the RFID tag: the book ID number and the on/off bit for security. Edmonton Public Library still puts on a regular barcode since the number is needed by patrons at home when renewing books.

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This is the Technical Service work area in the Lynn Valley Main Library.

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North Vancouver City Library

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Rather plain-looking and riddled with heating and cooling problems, this is the old North Vancouver City Library. The City Hall is next door and this building, after extensive renovations, will be added to it.

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Nearing completion, this is the new North Vancouver City Library. Built on a narrow strip of land, each floor of the three-floor library has the same square footage as the old library. Solar panels are on the roof, and the south-facing windows have automatic shades that direct the sunlight for efficient lighting, heating, and cooling. The library is aiming for LEED Gold certification. The only commercial component is a small café with a separate entrance. One area of the library is designated as the Reading Centre which will provide one-to-one consultation for readers, and offer space for reading, writing, and book club discussions. Each floor will use a different colour scheme and acceptable noise level, with the top floor being reserved for quiet study areas.

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The land for the library was originally held by the owners of the nearby apartment buildings. With a land swap, the new library could then be part of a new public square that will include the renovated City Hall. Another part of this city block was owned by the city but sold to developers who will build condominium towers and townhouses. The proceeds from the sale of the land provided all the money to build the new library and to renovate the City Hall.

The top floor of the library will have an open walk-out area with a view to the Lions’ Gate Bridge which connects North Vancouver to Stanley Park.

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The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia.

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The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is both a library and a teaching facility with a state-of-the-art lecture theatre and other classrooms. This library houses the collections for Fine Arts, Science and Engineering as well as Rare Books and Special Collections and the University Archives.

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The Chapman Learning Commons at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. This facility provides research and writing support, learning skills workshops, computers, and study space.

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As with many libraries, to have a room dedicated for quiet study is a good thing.

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The facade of the original building (seen in this photo) has been maintained but it forms the back of the building now.

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The stained glass windows are from the original building, and they have been incorporated into the new design.

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The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is also home to the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. SLAIS offered the first graduate program in archival studies in North America in 1981.

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A sign of the times. In the past, ash trays would have been common between chairs and couches, but now power bars for laptops are available wherever students want to sit. In the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, even the hallways are treated as potential study areas because of wireless Internet access.

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After a student submits a request for a book in the closed stacks area, a robot (the yellow object at the back of the room) retrieves the part of the shelf holding the book and brings the entire row of books to a sorting room (a retrieved shelf of books is between the robot and a computer monitor). There a library staff member pulls the book out and sets it aside for the student.

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I thought it curious that the number of stools does not match the number of OPAC/Internet computers.

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Langara College Library

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Langara College Library in Vancouver. This library has won awards for architectural and construction excellence, and has applied for LEED Gold certification in energy and environmental design. The library building is built like a heat sink, and it uses a geothermal source for heat.

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The library uses no air conditioning. The natural ventilation consists of four wind towers that pull air upwards through the building, an undulating concrete roof that increases the pulling power of the wind towers by increasing wind velocity, and sensor-controlled windows that bring air into the building.

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Natural light is used as much as possible throughout the Langara College Library.

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