Is a library still a library, if it has no (or few) books?
By traditional definition, a library contains a collection of books, periodicals and other physical media. In this brave new world of digital media, however, libraries are taking on a new primary identity as “learning centers” where scholars can collaborate and share ideas in a social space.
The new library at Harbor College, designed by DLR Group Architects, is one such modern library, with more computers than books. We were brought in to capture the social atmosphere of the building’s numerous computer labs, group meeting spaces, and quiet study zones. Photographing each space, we reached out to students and passers-by to demonstrate scale, flow and use. It’s always fun — and sometimes challenging! — to use real people as models.
Harbor College is part of a large network of community colleges here in Los Angeles, feeding students into prestigious programs at UCLA and USC. The students, faculty and staff here are very serious about the College’s mission, and we approached this shoot with respect for their ongoing work and studies in this occupied space. We had to coordinate with the librarians to make sure we were not disrupting the Library’s activities while we got our shots.
My favorite images from every shoot are almost always the dusk or twilight shots! For this project, we used a scissor lift to capture several very powerful, high-angle dusk shots. The screened facade of the Library, designed as an energy-efficient way to shade the interiors from the hot sun while providing natural light, really came alive at night. The building glowed against the deep indigo sky, highlighting both the screening and the colorful, bright interior volumes. We placed students as silhouettes in the front courtyard to give scale and purpose to the transparent structure.