Library Design Tips for the 21st Century
Libraries of various sizes and types are realizing the positive impact of creating comfortable and welcoming library environments for patrons all ages. For years, school and public libraries have drawn in the very young and their parents with creative, enticing children’s areas. A more recent emphasis is the shift toward attracting the thirteen to twenty-two year-old customer through comfortable furniture and engaging decoration. Those who have adopted this design approach are finding customers of all age groups attracted to these areas. There is no doubt that over the last several years there has been a noticeable transformation in the world of library interiors. Relaxing and inviting library facilities are no longer rarities, they are realities.
Over the years, in working with librarians, architects, and interior designers, I have learned several valuable lessons in building planning and design. There are numerous critical components involved in creating a library space with a user-centered user-friendly look and feel. Among one of the key elements is the selection of furniture and fixtures for the public. Here are a few practical and simple tips that consistently lead to the most successful projects, whether planning a new building, an expansion, renovation, or a simple re-vamp:
1. Get patron input – The main thing to remember is that it’s not about you or the architect or the interior designer…it’s about them, the customers!
2. Think comfort – Comfortable furniture, whether lounge seating or tables and chairs, is where it’s at for patrons of all ages.
3. Be adventurous – Look to new styles, colors, ideas and even ways of doing business. Being adventurous does not have to mean being eccentric, but it does mean keeping an open mind.
4. Put thought into fixtures – As with furniture, consider the practicality as well as the visual impact of fixtures. Consider fixed and portable shelving, display items such as countertop, end panel, and feature displays, and even signage. Note that many of the suggestions provided in tips 1 and 3 also apply here.
5. Plan for the future – As with most everything, styles will change and things will get worn out, so it is important to choose purchases wisely and then have a plan for the future.
When it comes to furniture and fixtures, here are just a few vendors to consider:
Bretford - www.bretford.com
Creative Arts Unlimited, Inc. - www.creativeartsinc.com
Demco – www.demco.com
Franklin Fixtures – www.franklinfixtures.com
Martin Brattrud - www.martinbrattrud.com
Metro Furniture - www.metrofurniture.com/home.html
Turnstone Furniture - www.turnstonefurniture.com
Kimberly Bolan is a Library Consultant and Author based in Indianapolis, IN. She has over ten years experience in facilities design, is the author of Teen Spaces (ALA, 2003) and Technology Made Simple (ALA, 2006), and travels across the United States speaking and consulting on a variety of topics ranging from space planning and design to technology planning to customer service and marketing. For more information, please contact Kimberly at email@example.com.
This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License