Shine Some Light on the Subject: Lighting Solutions for Libraries
Proper and well thought out lighting continues to be a challenge in libraries. Even when there has been discussion about the need for more natural lighting in libraries (or lighting that appears natural), as the stacks are installed the question "Do you think we will have enough light?" invariably arises. As tables and carrels are placed, the question arises "Is there an outlet anywhere nearby, if we need some more light?"
There are options available other than the lighting planned to be built into the ceiling structure. Ceiling fixtures such as hanging pendants and wall sconces, fixtures used on the tables (which are sometimes fixed to the table), and linear lighting mounted over the workspace within the carrel are all ways of adding some light. A relatively new design in lighting fixtures is an extension to the shelving which attaches into the steel upright and creates an arc or some type of bracket to hang linear lighting over the aisles to "shine some light on the subject" of the book spine. At the end of the arched light holder, the bracket attaches the linear lighting at three or four foot intervals dependent on the model chosen. The stack light is also a solution for contributing much-needed lighting to the library. Another way to use the shelving to supply lighting is to build the lighting into a soffit in the top canopy top. All of the options require careful planning as to where the source of the electrical will be placed.
All of these methods of providing additional lighting need to be planned as the building takes form to be sure that wiring is brought to the areas that it will be needed. Whether planning floor outlets for the furniture, or shelving to become "wired", plans for all of these solutions need to be considered early in the project so that lighting is not an afterthought. Even if the natural lighting is considered a source of light for daylight hours of operation, potential glare must be considered. Solutions to this problem should include ways of adjusting the overabundance of light at certain times of the day or season as it enters through windows and doors. Accessories for computers allow the screen to move or provide other means of working with glare. The monitor screen must be kept free of dust to eliminate glare as the dust contributes to it. Placement of glass (windows, skylights, doors and clear story windows) and decisions about tinting and factors relating to temperature insulation are all topics for discussion with your architects or lighting consultants.
There are no "bargains" when it comes to lighting. Using lighting fixtures that have been tested (receiving UL Listing or similar) on commercial lighting is a necessity for use in commercial buildings for both durability, performance and overall safety of the users.
Tish Murphy, Library Furniture Consultant and Author of Library Furnishings; A Planning Guide lives in Phoenix, Arizona. www.libraryfurnishings.com
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