Our team has a wide breadth of experience and understands the complex needs of planning and designing community-centric spaces. We understand that libraries are not a “one-size-fits-all” solution and that in order to be successful, libraries must cater to the unique needs of the community or campus in which they serve.

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” – Andrew Carnegie

The shift from libraries being places where books are stored to being places where learning occurs – in all its many forms – has been seismic. Today’s savvy users expect more than the basics; they expect an exceptional, customer-centric experience. With more options of places to spend free time, libraries have to live up to expectations and standards set by the private sector. As a result, libraries all over the country are introducing new programs and services to execute strategic goals that positively impact the customer’s experience. No longer just a place to store books and host transactions, libraries have transitioned to community destinations that encourage patrons to connect, create, and discover.

Our inclusive, interactive community engagement process is what sets our team apart from our competitors.

Our Process

How We Identify the Needs of a 21st Century Library

Our team has established a tried and true process to identify the unique needs and desires of a community or campus. This process can be fine-tuned to the particular needs of each project, whether it’s a renovation, new construction, or a combination of the two, creating an end result that benefits library patrons and staff for years to come. 

  1. Educate. It is crucial to educate your community or campus on what a 21st century library can be. This is the time to inform, inspire, and build excitement for the design process that is coming. Our educational presentation can be presented in multiple formats and covers library technology advancements, library programming advancements, evolving space typologies, strategic collection planning, and 21st century library design trends.  We will work closely with you to tailor the content based on your project needs.
  2. Outreach. Our goal is to gather diverse community perspectives through community outreach surveys. Surveying can be done in a multitude of ways and is 100% anonymous. We will work with you to establish a process that maximizes participation and prioritizes candid feedback. Surveys help our team understand how your library is being utilized today and identifies valuable opportunities for the future. 
  3. Engage. This is the time to learn about your community, to solicit community input, and to build the vision for what your project will be. Our interactive engagement activities help to identify desired library programming, library space typologies, and potential community partnerships. Sessions range from macro, all-inclusive community input meetings to micro, focused group meetings with specific library users and community stakeholders. Our engagement activities prioritize inclusion and are intended for people of all ages and backgrounds. 
  4. Refine. Our design team will take all of the information gathered to formulate a library program and vision for your project. We will work closely to align the library design goals with your budget and schedule expectations. 

Regardless of a community or campus’ unique library needs, we believe libraries should:

  • Be innovative, flexible, and adaptable for future technology and programming needs;
  • Accommodate the needs of multiple generations;
  • Provide exceptional, customer-centric experiences;
  • Promote lifelong learning.

Adaptability = furniture-based solutions.

In order for libraries to be more community based and less place based, it is imperative to design spaces that can be quickly and easily adapted by patrons and staff. This often means that design solutions are less permanent and more flexible with furniture based solutions. We can help “future proof” your building to be adaptable for future technology advancements and user needs. This can be done in a multitude of ways, a few examples including raised access flooring, demountable walls, movable partitions, simple curtain solutions, and lightweight mobile furniture that can be stored seamlessly.

Strategic collection planning is imperative.

In order to free up real estate for community centric spaces, it is imperative to be strategic with your collection shelving and display. We can help you design shelving that strives to increase circulation numbers, reducing the overall floor space needed for shelving. We have several design variables that we explore during our collection planning process, including shelving height, aisle spacing, collection growth and/or reduction, and retail based display techniques. We most recently went through a collection planning process with the Crete Public Library in Crete, Nebraska. Since opening in 2020, circulation numbers have increased by 42% despite the challenges associated with the global pandemic. 

Inclusion is not a buzzword, but a necessity.

Libraries should be a comfortable, safe space for all patrons and staff. There are many design considerations to achieve human comfort, including thermal, acoustical, visual, and ergonomic. We believe thoughtful architecture and furniture design will help excel your facility and library services. This includes intentional space planning for quiet and collaborative zones, strategic furniture and collection planning with lower shelves and maximized sight lines, diverse furniture options to accommodate multiple generations and abilities, and varying sizes and levels of privacy in enclosed meeting and study rooms.

Want to learn more? We'd love to talk.

Mark Bacon, AIA

Architect / Principal

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