Book Bars to woo young readers

In a bid to encourage more young people to read, the Reading Agency is to establish 20 Book Bars in libraries and youth settings across England, aimed at 11- to 19-year-olds.

Armed with funding from the Lottery’s Young People Fund, the Reading Agency have appointed Curious Group to develop a name, brand and environment where young people can access books, magazines, computers and socialise with their friends.

Tony Coffield of Curious Group is keen to stress the importance of involving young people themselves in the design process. ‘We found that the 11- to 19-year-old audience didn’t think that libraries had much to offer them, so we went through a process of meeting lots of young people, running focus groups and questionnaires to find out what they like in terms of environments, activities and staff uniforms.’

The final name, brand and concept for the Book Bars will be finalised this summer, with the actual building staggered over the next 18-24 months, so Curious Group was reluctant to release specific design details. However, Coffield says they are trying to create ‘a generic design that can be accommodated into a variety of spaces’. ‘The Book Bars have to grow and shrink depending on size but must also have a strong visual identity,’ he says.

With a track record in innovative library design, Curious Group was also responsible for the inflatable meeting room at Glasgow Caledonian University.

‘New technology has hauled libraries into the 21st century,’ says Coffield, ‘and this is what we need our designs to reflect.’

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