Libraries just aren’t what they used to be. Computers have made the dog-eared card catalogue all but obsolete; pollution is threatening the books that haven’t already succumbed to the poor quality of the paper on which they were printed; and videotapes are rapidly gaining on bound biographies.

Whatever challenges such changes pose to the people who use libraries, they pose a whole host of problems to those who design them. How to accommodate all that wiring? How to anticipate the accelerating changes in information technology? How to balance the storage for books against that for bytes?

The architectural implications of such questions are nowhere more clear than in a new library at Saint Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire. Saint Paul’s is one of the leading members of the New England cadre that has for generations provided Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, among other top...

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