Currently, Japanese municipalities under demographic change have struggled the issues about how to reorganize existing public facilities, such as a school, a library, a public housing, and a hospital, with the reduction of total amounts of facilities and the transformation to multi-purpose public hubs. But, since their reorganization process have just started, it is quite difficult to verify their efforts and effects based on the examples by Japanese municipalities.
Then, the authors pick up the public library named as “Biblioteca Salaborsa” (hereinafter, Salaborsa) run by Bologna city, Italy, and aim to study its characteristics, in particular, from the viewpoint of a public space. Salaborsa is highly appreciated by European experts as an good example of “social library” which is a new type of public library emerged recently in Europe to meet citizens' wide demands.
It is located in the city center of Bologna, and is adjacent to the famous plaza of “Piazza Maggiore”. In the beginning of 1990s, the development of Bolognese new public library was started together with the development of city center around “Piazza Maggiore”. This new public library was planned based on the concept of an “uncovered plaza” with the assistances from a lot of stakeholders including the University of Bologna, and was finally opened in 2001 as the advanced public library with the most advanced information technology at that time. Salaborsa benefited Bolognese citizens a lot, but gradually, various types of citizens, such as immigrants, homeless people, elderly people as well as university's students, got to visit and sometimes to request what they needed. It was beyond the general services of public libraries in Bologna to meet their requests, but Salaborsa's librarians decided to implement it in the partnership with relevant departments of the city.
As for Salaborsa's spaces, the existing building standing in the city center has been used with renovation work. The three-story atrium with beautiful glass roof is in the center of the building. But, since it is a masonry construction, the activities in Salaborsa can't be seen from outside, and each floor is divided into relative small spaces by walls and columns. Therefore, it can be said that this building is not best for a contemporary public library which generally needs wide spaces for many book shelves.
The authors conducted the interviews to key persons who were / are in charge of Salaborsa's development and management, and analyzed Salaborsa's characteristics with the published documents, in particular, from the viewpoint of a public space by referring to the definition on the public nature by J.Saito which is consisted of three aspects of “Open”, “Common”, and “Official”. To analyze Salaborsa's characteristics, three aspects of Salaborsa’s space, operation and organization were analyzed with three aspects of public nature. Some important findings differed from that Japanese public facilities are in general likely to pay most attention to the nature of “Official”. But, it can be pointed out that there were some problems which should be solved even in Salaborsa. The lack of public involvement in the process of library development was representative.
As the conclusion of this paper, the followings should be considered to develop a public library as a public space;
(1) Place making for social inclusion,
(2) Integral planning based on potentialities of existing building as public space,
(3) Development connected to urban planning and design policy
(4) Trans-sectional administration organization.