i'm a big fan of the exterior of seattle public library's downtown branch.
the interior, however, needs some work. it still feels cold, there's no secret nook to lose yourself in a book, and, most importantly, it's exceedingly easy to get lost. i seem to remember getting lost at least once each time i visited the downtown library.
for that reason, i was heartened to read kery murakami's "Too many people getting lost in new downtown library," in today's seattle pi. the article is about seattle public library hiring wayfinder lynne faulk (a friend) to design signage to prevent library patrons from getting lost. bravo to seattle public library for hiring lynne to solve the problem - she was, after all, the one who redesigned seattle's unfathomably difficult to understand parking meters. if lynne does half the job she did with the city's parking meters, library patrons will find getting around, exploring, and finding materials at seattle's downtown library 100% easier.
my one problem with murakami's article is the way she patronizingly defines the growing field of wayfinding: Faulk is a professional "wayfinder" -- which is a fancy way of saying she makes signs. um, no - wayfinding is a lot more than that, as murakami should know, especially after writing such an interesting article about what's at play in this case of wayfinding. wayfinding is about what is being offered, what people are trying to find, and where and how the two meet. as our cities, spaces, and structures get more dense, complex, commercialized, and commodified, sometimes we need some help to just find our way. wayfinding, especially the kind i've seen lynne do with the gates foundation, seattle's parking meters, and now with the downtown library, gets us on our way and pushes us in the most interesting direction.
i'll be eager to wayfind through the downtown library the next time i return to seattle.