NEWS: Vancouver Public Library Rooftop Garden Planned in New Strategic Vision
New, re-energized and expanded community spaces – including dynamic collaboration zones and high-tech creation spaces. A bold new way of delivering service. Dramatically enhanced opportunities to connect, learn, collaborate, create and contribute – all in places where no one has to pay a fee to enter, sit down, or join.
Those are among the initiatives in Vancouver Public Library’s new strategic plan, unveiled yesterday, which ambitiously re-envisions the library to meet 21st century needs.
“This is one of the most exciting periods in the history of Vancouver Public Library,” notes Catherine Evans, chair of the library’s board, which led an extensive research and consultation process to develop the plan.
“Our city is changing, technology is changing, and how people interact with information is changing,” she says. “VPL is embracing these changes – we’re expanding our commitment to being an accessible public resource for all the city’s communities.
“We’re re-imagining the concept of the public library and how VPL contributes to Vancouver.”
Vancouver Public Library is one of the city’s longest-standing institutions – a place for the community to connect with each other and learn from each other – and over the next three years the library has significant plans:
Vancouver Public Library rooftop garden to be open to the public
One of the biggest changes will be the opening of the “garden in the sky,” a multi-level outdoor area featuring 16,000 square feet of new public space, including an 8,000 square-foot garden. In 2015, the library will reclaim the eighth and ninth floors from the provincial government. The library will begin a massive renovation on the eighth and ninth floors and make the roof accessible to the general public.
Launch bold new ways to deliver service – when and where patrons want it:
At the central library, for instance, library staff enabled by mobile technology will soon come to patrons (not the other way around) to help them where and when needed in the building.”Remember the old way? You came to us – usually to a reference or research desk,” notes VPL’s chief librarian, Sandra Singh, who oversees the 22-location library system. “We have a better idea; a much better idea: We’ll come to you.”Our library staff will be equipped with mobile technology, so that fully connected information experts can come to you – wherever you are in our public spaces,” she says.”And outside the library – we think we need to be where you are, and that means the transformation of the iconic library information desk into a mobile tablet that staff can take anywhere: from inside the library and out into community spaces.”
Among other initiatives:
- Create new and re-energized community spaces – including new and redeveloped branches (Downtown Eastside/Strathcona, for instance, and Oakridge and Marpole);
- Continue planning for the long-awaited ‘garden in the sky’ – access to the green space on the roof of the central library downtown – something originally planned, but not yet realized;
- Explore use of digital interfaces so VPL is a platform for community creativity and knowledge to showcase Vancouver’s history, stories and memory:
- A digital media space (3,000 square feet) dubbed VPL’s Inspiration Lab is planned to open at the central library in late 2014, and could potentially include a digital recording studio, video editing software and workstations, an interactive music lab and more;
- Re-engage users who may not have used the library for some time, and enhance access to library collections, staff expertise and VPL’s community space with nearly 2,300 more opening hours a year system-wide – equivalent to roughly 285 eight-hour opening days.
“Our plan really builds on what we heard – on our research and on the many changes around us, locally and globally,” says Singh. “It balances the traditional expectations of the library for collections and quiet study spaces with the energy of collaboration and creativity.
“At our foundation are diverse collections and programs, highly skilled staff, a network of physical and virtual branches and flexible technology,” she says.
“This great library system has served Vancouver for more than 100 years. We’re deepening our connection to our patrons and the entire city so it will continue to thrive well into the future.”
Visiting Professor at Cornell Encourages Vertical Farming in Buildings
A few graduate students’ dream that skyscrapers will be filled with plants instead of cubicles may be becoming a reality. In a lecture Wednesday, Prof. Emeritus Dickson Despommier, Columbia University, environmental health sciences, spoke to an audience of 30 students about how groups are beginning to adopt vertical farming to solve the planet’s climate issues.
Despommier said that the world’s cultures, ecosystems and economic systems currently face challenges obtaining a safe water supply, securing food safety, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and restoring damaged ecosystems. Food producers have farmed 80 percent of earth’s available farmland, consumed 70 percent of available freshwater and 20 percent of the country’s fossil fuels, he said.
Vertical farming, or the cultivation of plant life in skyscraper greenhouses, Despommier said, is the solution to these problems. By growing plants in “living buildings,” the agricultural industry can decrease its production of agricultural runoff and stop using fossil fuels and pesticides, according to Despommier.
In addition to creating a positive carbon footprint, vertical farming would stabilize the success of agricultural industry, Despommier said. The “living buildings” would provide shelter so there would be year-round crop production and no crop loss from severe weather events.
Furthermore, “living buildings” are more productive than traditional farmland, Despommier said. In fact, each indoor acre of farmland is more productive than 10 outdoor acres of land, according to Despommier.
According to Despommier, the biggest payoff of vertical farming is teaching cities to function as ecosystems. To be a functioning member of an ecosystem, you must be both a giver and receiver of energy, Despommier said. In natural ecosystems, plants are the primary producers, but in cities, the role of primary producer has not been filled.
“Cities are parasites. They do not produce anything of their own. They use up everything. For example, New York City consumes food equivalent to the size of Virginia,” Despommier said.
Despommier said that once city dwellers are able to successfully use their waste to produce more energy, cities can become eco-cities.
The students in attendance, who represented a variety of majors, said Despommier’s ideas, which some described as “revolutionary,” have major impacts on many different industries and areas of society.
“I think it’s really interesting that [Despommier] is using design and architecture and the idea of vertical farming as a public health initiative. I’m interested in how access to different foods impacts poverty and education. I’m interested in how everything fits together,” Laura Stokes ’13 said.
Ben Javidfar ’13, a neurobiology major, said he sees potential for a career in vertical farming.
“I could potentially make a career out of this … like improving the science and making the technology more efficient to improve the tecahnological aspect. [Vertical farming] is just a really efficient — probably the most efficient — type of technology that I’ve ever heard of in agriculture,” Javidfar said.
Cory Furst ’13, a hotel student, was thankful that Cornell is supporting efforts to invite speakers who are relevant leaders in their respective fields.
“I’ve been following [Despommier] for a few years, so I was really excited when I heard about the lecture. I think it’s really nice that at Cornell you get people like this who actually speak first-hand about what they’re doing in this revolutionary field,” Furst said.
The Latest In Urban Farming….Truck Farming.
Brooklyn filmaker Ian Cheney covered this exact topic in his documentary Truck Farm. Upon moving to New York in 2009 and realizing how difficult it can be to find a place to grow local food, Cheney planted a mini farm in the back of his old Dodge, and so the Truck Farm project was born. The project’s mission is to teach the public how easy, fun and accessible growing food can be. There are now 25 Truck Farms across the United States.