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Meeting Rooms of the Future

by on April 28, 2016

Japan is known for advanced technology, lively pop culture, and its deep and ancient history. Many people do not likely think of libraries, however, when considering Japan’s contributions to its society and to the world. One Japanese university is changing the way information professionals and students alike view university library aesthetics and design, prompting a new view of the user experience in academic libraries.

University libraries in any part of the world can often be thought of as stuffy, boring, or simply a fairly quiet place to study. But Seikei University is changing that image. [1] For its centennial celebration in 2006, the university, located in the Kichijoji-Kitamachi neighborhood of Tokyo, built a brand-new library.[2] This five-story building has a striking glass façade and an abundance of open space and natural light. There are plenty of research materials, tables to study and work on, and computer workstations. According the library’s website, it is designed for students to use both functionally and easily, according to their needs. They also have access to a media room with CDs and DVDs, as well as 266 “crystal carrels,” or personal reading rooms.[3]

What catch the eye are the five student meeting rooms. Each called “Planet,” they hover high above the users’ heads on thick white pillars, covered in glass domes. Students can reach these study rooms via a series of walkways. When viewing the pictures, the reader can see the variety of shapes of these “planets.” The name “Planet” is no accident, either, as it signifies both the outer space bodies and the concept of meetings and organization in the breakdown of planet: “plan” and “net (work).”[4] Each “Planet” has meeting tables, chairs, white boards for brainstorming, and monitors for display. One picture shows an unimpressive wooden study carrel in view of one of these futuristic meeting rooms, as if to highlight the sharp contrast in new learning experiences. Seeking to create a library where speaking and collaborating are allowed, Seikei University sought a space for students who learn through discussion and sharing of opinions and ideas.[5] The library was designed by the team of Shigeru Ban and construction company Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei.[6]

Perhaps these celestial study and meeting rooms can inspire universities in other countries, like the United States, in design or redesign of academic libraries. Japan continues to advance in many areas, and their university libraries are, evidently, no exception.


References:

[1] Casey Baseel, “University library in Tokyo may be world’s coolest with its ‘floating’ meeting rooms,” Rocket News 24 (Tokyo), February 23, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3]University Library,” Seikei University, accessed April 26, 2016.

[4] Casey Baseel, “University library in Tokyo may be world’s coolest with its ‘floating’ meeting rooms,” Rocket News 24 (Tokyo), February 23, 2016.

[5] Yukari Mitsuhashi, “The future of libraries? In Japan, elevated study pods encourage conversation,” Bridge (Tokyo), March 3, 2013.

[6] Ibid.


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