The primary goal of effective library design and space planning is that the facility must respond to the needs of its service population. Once the needs of its service population are determined, the library building must include flexibility in the design of its interior and exterior spaces and elements in order for the library to effectively address the immediate and future needs of its design population.
Denver Public Library-Denver, CO
(Michael Graves Architects)
Since the late 1970s, advanced technologies and alternative methods of how libraries deliver services, i.e., distance learning, electronic media, continue to develop rapidly. Before the late 1970s, housing print media was the main function of a library. Today, Internet access, electronic media, computer technology, and other forms of modern-day advancements have had a profound effect on the function and design of libraries. As a result, library design must take into account all of the issues that may affect its use in the future. Incorporating flexibility and adaptability in the design, planning, and construction of libraries is essential in order for the library to serve the immediate and future needs of its community.
The first step in the design of any library is a written building program that outlines the library's space needs. An effective program must include input from librarians and library staff who have hands-on experience with the function of a library, its space needs, and the needs of its service population. A general rule of thumb is that the program should project the space needs of the library for 20 years. A library building consultant can also help to prepare the building program. Library design is most effective if the program is developed before beginning the schematic design phase.
Information on several types of libraries is available on the WBDG:
- Public Libraries
- Academic Libraries (including college and university libraries)
- School Libraries (including public and private schools)
- Special Libraries (Presidential Libraries)
Relevant Codes and Standards
Department of Defense
- UFC 4-740-20 Libraries
- American Libraries Online-The American Library Association's monthly online magazine
- American Library Association (ALA)
- Library Buildings Consultant List by Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA). Chicago: American Library Association.
- Wired for the Future: Developing Your Library Technology Plan by Diane Mayo and Sandra Nelson. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 1999.
- Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK)-an interactive portal offering online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of building, from predesign, design, and construction through occupancy and reuse.