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At its core, the library is a place dedicated to the collection, protection, and sharing of the record of human experience of life and the world, serving the life of the mind. As the digital age has matured, reshaping societies and human relationships, with information now ubiquitous, available instantly, the library today is an institution reimagined. It has reimagined how it can engage in the life of society. It is shifting its boundaries and redefining what a library can do to serve its community. Although its essential mission hasn’t changed, the ways of achieving it have. A library may seek to be something for everyone, or it might have a mission that focuses on education, or research, or to be a repository for the preservation and study of rare books and manuscripts.

Libraries can be catalysts for urban renewal, places to spur innovation, and to encourage discourse. They all have some special connection to where they are and who they serve. They are all gateways to the digital world as well as to paper, and centers of communities, bringing together people with a common interest in finding out more. The library has embraced new ways to encourage searching, browsing, looking, and listening. Its role is to provide pathways to learning for the pleasure of hearing what someone has to say, and for the curious, points of entry into the life of the world for the betterment of all.

Newman's library experience includes renovations, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse, new buildings and additions. Every library is different: it is a constellation of services and activities reflective of a community’s resources, appetites, needs, and its own history, gathered together. We ask many questions: How can the library manage and encourage access, imagination and innovation? Are there new pathways to knowledge? Is it a maker space? A hand saw to lend? How can individuals best engage in media of different kinds? How can its spaces encourage interaction? How can the library engage town or campus fabric and life beyond its walls in order to become fully part of something larger? How can we convey a spirit of connection and make it live in the fabric of the library?

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As architects, we use our knowledge and imagination to create environments shaped to enable people to live better lives. The public library, in particular, is a special place, offered equally to all, each person fully franchised just by being there. Our goal is to design libraries that can change over time as communication forms and communities change, while retaining their character as welcoming places, giving each mind access to the means to engage, experience, and know the world.

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