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Tuesday, August 9 • 11:15am - 12:15pm
Architecture's Impact on the Library's Program, Part II

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Awaking an Old Lady, The Salle Labrouste: How to Re-invent an Art Library in 2016
Anne-Elisabeth Buxtorf, Director, INHA National Art History Library

Designing for the Program, Programming for the Design: Stanford University's New Bowes Art & Architecture Library
Peter Blank, Senior Librarian, Bowes Art & Architecture Library, Stanford University Libraries 

Moderated by Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University 

Buxtorf, Awaking an Old Lady, The Salle Labrouste: How to Re-invent an Art Library in 2016

After years of consideration, debates, and renovation work, the library of the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA) will soon be moving into the historic Salle Labrouste reading room of the Bibliothèque nationale—thereby realizing the dream of a great art library in the heart of Paris. In these prestigious, historical premises, how did the library manage to innovate? What were the challenges for the architects, librarians, and art historians? What are the readers’ expectations? This talk will describe the renovation of this architectural masterpiece and give key points in how it has been renewed as an art library.

Between 1854 and 1875, as architect of the Bibliothèque nationale, Henri Labrouste totally renewed the library—separating stacks from readers, introducing preservation considerations, and modernizing librarianship. For more than a century, the Salle Labrouste was the heart of the Bibliothèque nationale. Generations of scholars worked in this temple of books until 1998 when the collections were moved into the Bibliothèque nationale’s new François-Mitterrand complex. It was then decided to dedicate the Salle Labrouste to art history and make it INHA’s reading room. In 2016, this vision will finally be achieved.   

What will this new, unified library contain? The INHA Library gathers holdings from the great art collector and fashion designer Jacques Doucet, and collections coming from the Louvre and the Archives de la critique d’art. Soon to be added are the collections of the Ecole nationale des beaux-arts. This is also very much a twenty-first-century library project that provides for accessible collections, collaborations with scholars and research programs, and digital and visiting programs. Mixing new aims and preserving the past was a great challenge for the architects and the librarians. The paper will present how the library is managing to deal with these exciting challenges. 

 Blank, Designing for the Program, Programming for the Design: Standford University's New Bowes Art & Architecture Library

Stanford University's Bowes Art & Architecture Library opened its doors to patrons in September 2015. A purpose-built, academic art library comprises the entire second floor of the Charles Renfro designed (Diller Scofidio + Renfro) McMurtry Art & Art History Building. The planning process for the Library began in 2007, with a program-planning consultant brought on board in 2009, and with final architect selection in 2010. The Head of the Art & Architecture Library was an invited member of the project's Executive Committee and was instrumental throughout the planning process from 2010 to 2015. Although special care was taken to fully articulate and then realize the program for the Art & Architecture Library, from conceptual and philosophical underpinnings to furniture selection, it was inevitable that working with a boutique firm would lead to architectural design considerations trumping some aspects of the Library's program. With the Library now open for its first year, expected and unexpected consequences of the design—positive, negative, and still uncertain—continue to impact the Library's operations and the ongoing goal of achieving the Library's programmatic vision, and specifically the new model of the Art Library as Laboratory.


avatar for Carole Ann Fabian

Carole Ann Fabian

Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University

avatar for Peter Blank

Peter Blank

Art & Architecture Library, Stanford University

Tuesday August 9, 2016 11:15am - 12:15pm

Attendees (28)