NCL Furniture Selection Underway


It’s late 2018. You’ve been wowed by the graceful and graphic exterior of the NCL. You’ve walked into the soaring space of the interior. You’ve found your book and brought your phone and laptop. So where are you going to sit?

CMLC Senior Project Manager Carolyn Haddock and her team have spent much of 2017 thinking about just that. “The furniture is what creates a human-scale experience in the library,” she says. “Furniture softens the big space and makes you feel cozy and welcome.”

Carolyn, along with others from Calgary Public Library and the NCL project team, is choosing furniture for library-goers of every kind and capacity from 1 to 101 years old. They’re considering the shape of table corners, the number of outlets to charge devices, the possibility of adjustable heights, the tabletop finishes, the choice between tables with legs or pedestals (mostly the latter; they’re more accessible for wheelchairs).

And chairs! There are some 17 different categories of chairs to choose, more than 2,000 in all, from seating for the nursing room to café chairs to stackable plastic seating to something appropriate for the grand traditional reading room at the top of the library. The chairs need to withstand daily wear and tear for years. And they have to be as beautiful as the library in which they live.     

But chairs are first and foremost about people, and Carolyn is testing on sitters of all kinds. 

Little kids like bright colours and shapes in their size so that no one else can fit into them, but they also want chairs big enough for them and a caregiver. Older children absolutely don’t want their chairs to look like kids’ chairs. Teenagers want chairs that look cool, but they don’t sit in traditional postures; they want to be able to curl their feet up off the floor. For older people, chairs with arms are important so they can lift from and lower themselves into them.

“Everyone has an opinion about furniture,” says Carolyn. “And they’re all right.”