Title: Library Design Tips for the 21st Century
Author: Kimberly Bolan
Source: WebJunction – Library Design Tips For The 21st Century
This is a post from a few years back that still holds true and with great ideas for public libraries considering furniture selection and purchasing for their construction projects.
1. Get patron input – The main thing to remember is that it’s not about you or the architect or the interior designer…it’s about them, the customers!
- In the most successful of instances, positive space transformation and successful purchases are a result of open-minded library professionals and significant community input from users of all ages, so utilize focus groups, surveys, and interview techniques.
- Any architect or designer worth working with will be more than receptive to participating in a community needs analysis, focus groups, interviews, etc. Do not let anyone try to tell you what he/she ‘thinks’ your community needs.
- Think about each user group (children, teens, adults, and senior citizens). One design rule of thumb does not apply to all. Color, style, durability, and material choices will and should vary by group. It is possible to have both a cohesive look and feel for the entire library, while still serving the individual needs of various user groups.
2. Think comfort – Comfortable furniture, whether lounge seating or tables and chairs, is where it’s at for patrons of all ages.
- The type of furniture you choose sets the tone of your library, so if you want to make your patrons feel welcomed and keep them coming back…think comfort.
- Comfort is not restricted to lounge style furnishings. Tables and chairs, whether for general seating or computer use, should also be considered at all times. Think about ergonomics and, remember, just because it’s a library, doesn’t mean it has to be hard and made of wood.
- Never settle for an item before testing it. Ask vendors to let you ‘trial test’ a few of your final furniture choices for a week or two. This can be useful to determine if a chair fits your library and users’ needs.
3. Be adventurous – Look to new styles, colors, ideas and even ways of doing business. Being adventurous does not have to mean being eccentric, but it does mean keeping an open mind.
- Shop around…get ideas. What are others such as book stores, museums, shopping malls, etc. doing? Consider durability as well as basic design elements such as style and color. You’d be amazed at what the right combination can accomplish.
- Never settle for what’s easiest or cheapest. Don’t pick something because it’s the first you’re shown. And, never let the cost of an item be an obstacle. Believe me…I have spent many of day finding ways to purchase the right item at the right cost. Balancing quality, durability, comfort, and cost can be a tall order, but it can be done.
- Look to designers and vendors who are continually expanding their ways of thinking. Who has produced the same old furniture and fixtures for the last 30 years and who is producing new product lines and listening to what their customers are asking for?