People are using libraries in new and varied ways. They have become gathering places, technology hubs and educational centers. Serving all these purposes in a single building can be a challenge, but incorporating flexible furniture is one way to make a multi-purpose space adaptable.
Flexible furniture is often lightweight and easily assembled. It should also be reconfigured with little effort and cost. There are many furniture lines that offer elements that can aid in room division (screens, planters or media stands) or creativity and idea sharing (writing surfaces, conferencing capabilities and configurations that encourage discussion).
These pieces make it easy for patrons to share information, trade ideas, create, work and learn. It is difficult for libraries to meet these needs with traditional spaces and static furniture. Flexible furniture is a cost-effective way to ensure that any space can serve the needs of many.
Depending on the reason for the patron’s visit, furniture may be the only tangible experience they have with the building. For the student engaged in independent study, it can provide an environment that shelters them from visual distractions by strategic room placement and a psychological barrier by choosing furniture with higher arms and a back or low screen divider. For group discussions, human proximity and eye-contact is important, so furniture can provide the environment that fosters discussion through seating height, placement and distance between chairs.
Access to technology and power are also important factors in a patron’s experience. Many furniture manufacturers offer pieces with integrated outlets to power personal devices and design their furniture with technology users in mind. They take posture, arm placement and ergonomics into consideration when designing the proportions of the seating and tables.