The Magnificent 7 - Most Requested on a Librarian's Wish List
I design Libraries. It's what I do and I absolutely love it. And so far I've not only designed quite a few, but I've also had the pleasure and honor to serve as a volunteer on our local strategic planning committee where I got to see first hand what all goes into making things work behind the scenes. It takes a LOT of work and planning by every last person on staff. So when I'm asked to begin a new project, whether it's a renovation to an existing Library or a brand new building, I take my job very seriously. Putting together spaces that are not only beautiful to look at and hopefully the perfect addition to a community, but also highly functional is crucial so that all the planning and work going on to run the Library is not done in vain. My job is to work with the Library Director and their team of decision makers to create a Library that functions to the fullness of its ability so that it can run easier and more smoothly. Sometimes we have to crunch as much function as we can into some very small spaces. And we make it work. And on other occasions we get a clean slate and can plan our square footage based on the needs of the Library. Couple that with an endless budget, and you've got a dream project! But that's not the standard unfortunately. So we sit down and we make our lists of what we want versus what we need versus what we cannot live without. And that brings us to the point of this week's blog post and content. My most requested on a Librarians wish list - The Magnificent 7.
GOTTA START SOMEWHERE
#1 PARKING - I don't know why it always surprises me when people request more parking. Naturally a Library is a very busy building in a community. And when purchasing space, parking should be one of the main things on the list of selling points. But honestly most Libraries just get stuck with what they can get their hands on and more often than not, this is NOT a building with maximized parking. So when we renovate buildings, the first consideration is, "is their any way we can add a few more parking spaces?" That was an issue with our local Library a couple of years ago. Their solution sort of fell in their laps when the local officials decided to build a parking deck right next door. Naturally we finished the Library first, but it will be super helpful when it DOES finally make its debut.
I NEED SOME SPACE
#2 MORE SPACE - This one is a no brainer. I've never met a client that didn't need more space. There is soooo much that goes on in today's Libraries. It is tantamount that they have the space to run programs, sort books, read to children, work on computers, do research, store EVERYTHING . . . . I mean this list is endless. And you know that better than anyone. So whenever we can carve out a little more square footage on a renovation or increase the building size of a new build, we do and we do it with extreme intent. That's the beauty of hiring a true space planning Interior Designer and Architect. You don't need someone who can just make it look good, you need someone that really gets into the weeds with you and discusses the function of your specific facility in great detail.
THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE
#3 YOUTH SPACES - This is truly my MOST requested item during programming. And if you want to learn more about beefing up your existing youth areas as well as other super cheap options for improving your current Library, download my 10 Ways to Improve Your Library on Little to NO Budget here. But it's so much more extensive than just more space for the younger patrons. And while more space for Teens is a consistent request, it's really more designated space for children that is such a huge part of it. And not just an area where they can read and play on devices. What my clients typically ask for are enclosed areas for safety purposes and larger independent rooms that they can use for any type of programming. Whether that's a story time room, a makerspace, puppet show area or any other fun idea they come up with to encourage children to visit their local Library more frequently. Typically they will sacrifice other spaces to carve out a place to put the Littles. It's that important.
"THE FUTURE BUILDS ON THE FOUNDATION OF THE PAST" lailah gifty akita
#4 HISTORY AND GENEALOGY ROOMS - These rooms are becoming so wildly popular. I get request after request for a designated room (or area if they can't get a room) for patrons to have access to history and genealogy resources. The amount of time people spend in these rooms doing tireless research is unfathomable to me. But it's a real thing and the demand is high. I personally love to just be in those rooms; surrounded by all the old books and documents. More H & G please!
#5 FURNITURE WITH POWER OPTIONS - This one is pretty common. And now with such popularity, most every piece of mobile and stationary furniture can be outfitted with power. So of course the obstacle here isn't powering furniture, but power access from the floors. Wall outlets are usually pretty easy. But if you're designing a renovation space, make sure you work together with your Interior Designer to coordinate power outlets with the furniture plan so you don't find yourself without power where it matters most. But cutting new outlets in the floor is a bit more complicated. It can be done, but it too must advocate the use of strategic planning between all design and construction parties from the onset of design. Don't wait until the last minute to figure out your furniture layout!
THE FORGOTTEN SPACE
#6 STUDY ROOMS - These all-too-often get put to the wayside when planning a new design layout until the last minute. But they are used by patrons and used in abundance. Typically referred to as Study Rooms, they are really used for so many different purposes like tutoring a student, creating technology-based designs, or even just extra quiet spaces to read or even make a phone call. They're small, quaint and private. What's not to love?!
GREEN WITH ENVY
#7 OUTDOOR GREEN SPACES - The outdoor spaces of Libraries are becoming more prominent in design. And I couldn't be happier about that! I previously addressed this in a recent post titled Take it Outside! - Benefits of Outdoor Library Spaces and got a lot of positive responses. These areas have SO many different uses and can really come in handy when teaching children about gardening, the outdoors, critters or really anything. It's even a great place to take messier activities that you prefer to keep off your carpet!
Library design can be intense. There are so many moving components to it and you need a team of professionals on your side that are familiar with your needs and understand how you function. And most importantly make sure you have a team that knows that they can't possibly know all the ins and outs of how your Library needs to run. If they understand that, then they will work closely with you and your staff to make sure you get the best possible functioning Library your money can buy. So ask questions and insist on a collaborative project. And make sure you have your own priorities well-defined when you sit down to talk design and layout so you know what you're willing to sacrifice if it comes down to it. Design what you really need and use every last bit of space to make it the best possible Library you can.
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