5 Design Strategies to Transform the Public Library

Posted 10/26/17 by Randy Hoople in Government

Cabot Public LibraryThe public library is a community cornerstone. While technology is drastically changing our day-to-day, making us less reliant on print, there is still a place for the library. 

Today's modern library serves as a center for discovery and communication - a space to congregate, to teach and to learn. These institutions are extending their mission beyond knowledge storage to a central public space and destination for the surrounding community.

Public libraries are transforming their interiors, moving away from institutional designs of the past to environments that are collaborative, flexible and comfortable. These environments require furniture solutions that are supportive. Here are five key design strategies for consideration when modernizing the public library.


1. Incorporate Daylighting

Daylighting techniques include removing tall barriers, bringing in natural light and reducing the need for artificial light. Access to natural light is shown to reduce eye strain, be a calming agent and contribute to energy savings. Natural light is also shown to increase mood and benefit overall well-being. How can designers incorporate daylighting? Design open environments so that light flows further into space. Use glass wall systems like KI’s Lightline wall instead of traditional drywall. Also, incorporate large windows wherever possible to diffuse light.

Lightline Wall 
2. Create a Variety of Work Areas and Spaces

Library patrons no longer just sit in a chair or plant themselves at a table reading a book. Many come to libraries to use technology, to find a quiet, comfortable place to read, study or work, or to take a community class with neighbors. Designers should consider planning for conference room style meeting spaces, lounge areas for groups to socialize as well as spaces where individuals can focus on their own. Some may even offer auditorium or fixed seating to accommodate community performances or large gatherings.

Library Lounge_Sela Lounge Chairs
3. Make Spaces Flexible

Library needs may change on a daily basis depending upon what events may be hosted or to accommodate ebbs and flows in visitor traffic. Spaces and the furniture solutions selected should be flexible so that users or employees can quickly and easily reconfigure areas. Individual tables can be moved and pushed together to accommodate a group and chairs can nested when not in use. Create smaller work or study spaces using mobile screens.

Strive Nesting Chairs_Connection Zone Mobile Screen


4. Integrate Technology and WI-FI Access

While the history of the library lies in books, its evolution revolves around technology. Library-goers want a public space where they can quickly utilize knowledge resources. Computer lab style environments with PC’s allow users to research. A reliable connection to WI-FI lets users take advantage of lounge areas where they can read a book but can also stay connected with their personal mobile devices. Easy access to power is essential to creating a positive library experience.

Connection Zone Benching_Doni Task Chair

5. Take a Cue from the Coffee Shop

How many of us head to Starbucks to study, work or even meet with friends? Creating café spaces in public libraries extends that sense of community. Coffee shops are places people go to connect and to learn. Providing café height tables and stools and lounge seating that’s inviting will bring guests in, likely lengthening their stay and the use of the library.

Grazie Cafe Stool_Athens Tables


To learn more about public library transformations, click to view the Cabot Public Library Case Study.

Randy Hoople

About the author: Randy Hoople

Government Sales and Marketing Manager As the Government Sales and Marketing Manager, Randy Hoople brings awareness of the KI brand to Federal and State and Local Government markets. He is responsible for strategic analysis as well as guidance on product development. Randy works closely with KI’s sales team to educate customers on government market trends and contract requirements, also recommending product solutions to interior designers. He began his career with KI in 1988 and has held a variety of positions involving strategic account management and Federal sales specialist deployment. Randy is an active member of The Coalition for Government Procurement, the GSA Quality Partnership Council and the Society of American Military Engineers.

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