Library Space Planning

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  • 0:04 Types of Libraries
  • 1:22 Planning a Library
  • 1:39 Types of Library Spaces
  • 4:02 Future Needs & Sustainability
  • 5:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Anne Butler

Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.

Libraries have been around for a very long time. From the libraries of ancient Mesopotamia to the digital lending libraries of today, libraries have changed and adapted to the needs of the communities they are in. Today's 21st-century library has to offer their neighborhoods more than just books.

Types of Libraries

Before planning what to put in your library, you have to figure out the purpose of your library. There are four major types of libraries: public, school, university or college, and special libraries.

Public libraries serve as a community center of sorts. In addition to checking out books, patrons can use computers, take classes, attend meetings and borrow other forms of media. Public libraries serve patrons of all ages.

School libraries offer students and teachers a plethora of resources. They can borrow books, portable media players, and learn how to research topics for papers. Some school libraries offer a resource room for teachers as well, where they can borrow class sets of books, bulletin board supplies, and movies.

University or college libraries are also known as academic libraries. These are found on college campuses and serve the needs of the students and faculty. Some colleges have more than one library, and these additional libraries often specialize in one subject, like law.

Special libraries are devoted to one area of interest, like hospital libraries. Here, medical staff can peruse symptom books to help with current cases. Special libraries can also be focused on special collections, like presidential libraries or the Library of Congress.

Planning a Library

Once you determine the type of library you'd like, architects and planners decide what the library is going to look like and where things are going to go in the library. They also have to decide how much space to allot for each area. There are six major spaces that need to be considered when planning a library.

Types of Library Spaces

The first type of library space is the collection space. Today's libraries need to account for more than just books. Many libraries have periodical sections, such as newspapers and magazines. Collection space also includes public access computer space. Library patrons can use this space to look up books and DVDs in the library catalogs, as many libraries no longer use card catalogs. For the bookshelves, sometimes referred to as ''the stacks,'' planners also have to decide what genres of books will go where. Children's books often go into their own special areas of the library, which is usually decorated to look more kid friendly with bright colors, stuffed animals, and kid-sized furniture.

User seating is also another space to plan in a library. Reading areas usually have comfortable chairs that encourage lounging. Chairs by media centers are usually less comfortable, as most libraries set a time limit on computer use. Chairs for meeting rooms are more portable, so they can be folded or stacked and moved out of the way if needed.

The library staff also needs their own space. The staff work areas include sections such as reference desks and circulation desks. Also important are areas such as staff break rooms and administrative offices.

As many public libraries also offer classes and act as community centers, space needs to be set aside for meeting rooms. Larger libraries can even accommodate auditoriums with projection screens. Smaller libraries make do with tables and chairs. Other meeting rooms can be areas such as small study rooms where smaller groups can meet.

Special use space can include a wide variety of items, from printers to even small cafes. Some larger libraries designate entire rooms for special use, like for special collections or archives. Smaller libraries designate their special use space for things like bulletin boards and signage. Some special use spaces can also include outdoor spaces.

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