Increase Patron Traffic on the Cheap!
Everyone has that something they're good at. And I mean really good at. Mine is maximizing the look and feel of your Library on a serious budget. I've been designing public Libraries for more than a decade now and honestly it never gets old. Since my natural love for all things books wasn't likely to permit me to quit my day job any time soon, it only made sense to incorporate that passion with my other passion; Interior Design. So I've worked with some of the best Library directors, architects and contractors around and together we've created some really amazing spaces. But of course these particular spaces had a lot of help from local funds, capital campaigns and state funds. Not all Libraries have access to that kind of money when they need it most. But then YOU know that better than anyone! So how can I help?? Well unfortunately I don't have millions of dollars in funds to hand over to all my favorite Libraries, BUT I do have some quick tips that I can offer you in the meantime to help you make the absolute most of your spaces that are sure to make your Library more appealing to your patrons. They will love the changes and you will be amazed at what all can be done with little to no money.
NO MONEY, NO LIBRARY - NOT SO FAST . . .
It's no shock to you that funds are critical when changing ANYTHING in your Library. The number one need/wish on my latest Library survey was a resounding "MORE MONEY"! I get it. From a designers perspective, I KNOW how much things cost. But you might be pretty surprised to learn what kinds of changes you can make and just how dramatic they can be if you devote a little time and energy to it, all while counting your pennies. There are simple things you can do that don't cost much at all and in some cases are down right free. I know because of a sweet little phrase you've probably heard of before called Value Engineering. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the design term, this is when you design the space the way you want it to look and then the contractor comes back with a price that's outside of the initial budget and you have to start cutting things back where you can to save money and get the price down to a more realistic level. Because of this, I've spent plenty of time going back to the drawing board where finishes are concerned to help my Library clients cut costs. This little exercise has taught me TONS about how to get the look for less. It's not always easy, but I want to share some of these tips with you. Which is why I've compiled a free downloadable list of my top 10 Ways to Improve Your Library on Little to NO Budget HERE.
SO HOW DOES THIS WORK EXACTLY?
So like I said in the previous paragraph, no matter how hard I work to keep the cost of design on a new project down, there are so many other factors involved; especially on a renovation, that you may not even see coming when you start out on your design. Sometimes there is a sudden need for all new electrical, or a new sprinkler system because the building doesn't meet code. Maybe you've torn into some existing flooring and discovered asbestos and now you've go to do a complete overhaul on it to make it safe. These things just can't be helped sometimes and believe me, I've encountered all of these and more on several of my Library projects. But the key is to not panic when that number comes in, and instead to just work through each aspect of the design to see where you can keep your look for less.
For example, I recently worked with a local Library team to renovate their existing and historic Library. And this one was the one that needed EVERYTHING! Including but not limited to a new roof, extensive elevator work and asbestos removal beneath the original VCT tiles in the workroom and other staff areas. This definitely caused us to have to go back and reassess where we could cut costs. So instead of the accent wall areas in the Children's reading spaces where we were going to install some fun wallcoverings, we chose to change them out for some bright and bold painted accent walls as an alternative. We also tackled some less expensive lighting options just to name a couple. Trial and Error! That's the name of the game in design when it comes to Value Engineering. But these changes don't have to be made JUST because you're in the middle of a renovation or new build. Most Libraries are on a waiting list for YEARS before larger funds can be released to them. But sometimes changes need to be made now. Sometimes you don't have years to wait. I can help!
A FEW TO GET YOU STARTED
Maybe you're reading this right now surrounded by your outdated Library space; perhaps even sitting in your office that is now doubling as a storage room for your children's programming materials. And you're frustrated with your overall look but don't even know where to start when making changes. Especially if you don't have the funds to do so. If so, then I know my 10 Ways to Improve Your Library on Little to NO Budget free download will help. But before you click the link, here are my top three that I use most frequently to help stretch Library funds as far as they can possibly go:
1) Paint, paint, paint - It's the easiest and most cost effective way to change your space dramatically. I even have some free color scheme options HERE to help get you started. Choose a few (two or three) focal point walls and give them a facelift by adding some fun color.
2) Rearrange your furniture! This one is so simple and FREE. I know you can't move your shelves in most cases, but sit down with some paper and a pencil and map out your spaces in sections. Look at how you might move things around to form groupings that would add some life and dare I say playfulness to your furniture arrangements. Here's a link to a few plans I've put together to generate your creativity.
3) Plants! Bring some of the outdoors in. Not only will it give a sustainable feel to your space, it will really make a huge difference in people's overall state of mind. I LOVE bringing the outdoors to my indoor spaces. The change is simple but dramatic. Every. Single. Time.
I know you get overwhelmed by the budget you have, or significant lack thereof. I really and truly do. It's the single most factor in whether or not a new Library project lives or dies. I see this every day of my design career. So know that I have put a lot of time and imagination into putting together these ideas for you in hopes of improving spaces all over the world wherever I can. It takes just a little imagination, which I know you have because you're devoted readers. Download this free list and start learning what you can do to make some dramatic changes this week! And tell me what you think. Don't hesitate to go over to the my DIY Library Design Group and either aske me a question or two, or ten even! I want to help in any way that I can! Let's start some conversations and generate some ideas. This list is a great jumping off place. Go channel your inner designer along with this list and make things happen!