Anatomy of a Successful Library

I’ve been to a few interesting library spaces before. These included buildings with cute aquariums and puppet show theaters for kids.

The other day, I got invited to do an authors lunch (along with Dr. David Unger) at the Huntington Beach Public Library. This was at their central library; I really loved spending time there, and I appreciated how they created a successful library space.

Firstly, they offered a great physical environment. There’s actually a drop-off zone right next to the entrance, to make things easier for those who might have mobility issues. Inside, I also noticed that there were both elevators and ramps for access.

Moreover, it’s a beautiful space. There’s a gushing tiered fountain in the center of the library that is both an art statement and a peaceful central presence. In one corner, I found a reproduction of a terra cotta warrior. (The entire Terracotta Army, discovered in Xi’an, China was a type of funerary art.) On a different wall, they had a lovely mural with soaring birds, snow-dusted mountains, and a sleek waterway.

The second sign of success I noticed was related to the programming. Not only were they running an Authors Lunch, but there were flyers pinned to the bulletin board that advertised a number of upcoming activities. They also had multiple meeting rooms, a theater, study rooms, and even a kids-only Makerspace section to get the creative juices flowing.

The third indicator of success was the huge support given to the library. There were a number of patrons flowing in and out of the branch. They also get wonderful care from the Friends of Huntington Beach Library. Not only did they put on the lunch, but they also provide an ongoing used books sale as well as run an amazing gift shop. These volunteers work hard for the library, which is open seven days a week.

Anyway, I had a fun time there—and you can check out the greeting my fellow lunch-goers gave me on my IG reel:


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