Does Your Library Measure Up - 5 Key Areas to Investigate
So how is your Library measuring up in the current state of things? It seems Covid is causing changes in so many facets of our day to day lives. The design of our Libraries is no different. One thing I'm hearing over and over in the design community is how this will effect the design of our Libraries now and in the future. Have you taken the time to really evaluate your Library and see how it serves your patrons? Could it use an update? Does it need a complete overhaul of design? Here are 5 Key Areas to investigate in your Library so you can see how you measure up.
How's your design concept? When you walk around your Library and look at the flow of design, ask yourself if everything feels coherent and consistent. See the space through the eyes of your patrons. Perhaps even walk around with a trusted patron and ask them what they see. It's difficult to really SEE your space when you live in it day to day. Things you should be looking for are things like a consistent and fluid color palette that is very easily identifiable. It should be clear to see as you move from the circulation desk to the Youth space, Adults, Study Rooms and to the Staff areas. Everything should have a similar feel and flow smoothly.
SPACE PLAN AND FURNITURE LAYOUT
Does your space plan make sense and accommodate all your patrons equally? You want to make sure you have enough seating to allow for the different needs of your patrons. Do you have multiple styles of seat groupings to allow for reading, studying, computer use and the like? Are your circulation patterns clear and evident? Do they meet all of the necessary codes? It's also critical to make sure your staff spaces are highly functional and that you have adequate areas for all the tasks that take place in the workrooms. These are all things to consider when evaluating your Library for patron and staff use.
How are your finishes working for you? Do you have a variety of textures, patterns and detailed focal points to create interest and character in your Library? Are your floor finishes consistent with your wall finishes? Does everything when looked at all together give a polished and complete appearance? Your finishes should feel complete and planned. Patrons should see your space and understand what the intent of design was when initially put together.
Do you have an assortment of soft lounge seating as well as more focused study seating? Do you have a healthy combination of patterns and textures in your fabrics so that they create interest and detail? How about your fun furnishings? Do you have a variety of booths, single study carrel units, one and a half chairs and colorful children's stools? I am currently using a lot of single-seater booths and single-seater systems units that are a huge hit with both teens and adults. And they're an excellent option for socially distanced arrangements as well.
Are you paying attention to the final details? Artwork, signage and lighting are the keys to a polished look. So many people notice these things in a space. For signage, you obviously want to have them in
plain sight so that patrons know where to go (hopefully without asking most of the time), but you also need to make sure they are installed according to code and that they protrude into corridors at the right height and depth. Artwork makes a significant statement about who you are and how you interact with your community. So many of my Library projects display the works of local artists and children. Display also plays a huge part in your design. Are you just hanging things on the walls, or is there deliberate purpose to your display system? Lighting. I could go on for days, but you want to make sure you cover the three important areas of lighting - task, ambient and decorative. Cover these bases and you know you're on the right track. If you're missing one of these or they lack a sense of purpose and flow, then you still have work to do.
Knowing is half the battle and taking a thorough look at your Library can help you decide if you need to make small changes or large ones. Budget is always an issue. But even small inexpensive changes can make a huge difference. So if you're reading this and thinking that your space might need some help, then look no further! I've put together a FREE official assessment worksheet along with a mini virtual course that will help you examine your Library completely. Download it and dive into your Library assessment in more detail today.