The affable David Fay, City Libraries Manager for Newcastle, showed me around the new and highly impressive Newcastle City Library the other day. I was most impressed by the way the very modern, transparent building fitted in and enhanced the traditional architecture of the city centre.
But one omission intrigued me. There are no reception or book issue desks behind which librarians can hide and keep themselves insulated from their customers. Instead there are small triangular pods beside which the staff stand or sit on stools ready and willing to talk to visitors and offer advice and asistance, and show them how to find the information they need on screen.
It made me wonder why we have reception desks these days in museums, offices and even hotels?