Library Space Planning Resource

New Space Planning Guide

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has released their new guide, entitled Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians, a guide to planning new or reconfigured public library spaces. 

The publication is useful in that it presents a formal set of best practices for designing library space that may be applied to libraries across the nation. The guide empowers librarians, administrators, space planners, and architects with tools for the planning and design of public library buildings. It takes the user through the step by step process of determining what to consider when designing a new library for their community, and includes illustrations of different room types, adjacencies, shelving, and seating that can be considered for a building project.

Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians is in part derived from an earlier project undertaken by the MBLC and Sasaki called the “Ecosystem Study.” The study surveyed library users and library staff across Massachusetts to learn how and why they use the libraries in the state. The study provides statewide recommendations that have implications for many programs and services offered by the MBLC, including the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP).

Since 1987, MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) has guided communities through more than 200 projects. The MPLCP is nationally recognized and serves as a model program for other states. There are currently MPLCP projects underway across the Commonwealth in Grafton, Greenfield, Hadley, Littleton, Marlborough, Medford, Norwell, Sharon, and Sherborn.

The link to download the resource is

Because library services are changing so rapidly, formal standards for space planning have been lacking for many years. For many years, the Wisconsin Public Library Standards have been a widely-known and used set of guidelines derived from statistics from public libraries in Wisconsin, but they do not address facilities beyond collection size and number of seats. MPLCP staff worked closely with the Boston-based global design firm Sasaki from June 2019 to November 2020 to develop Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians.  The process included a series of site visits to recently constructed or renovated public libraries across the Commonwealth, an in-depth analysis of thirteen selected case study libraries, and a focus group with the directors of the case study libraries where we discussed the successes and shortcomings of their completed buildings and the planning process. The information gleaned from these activities was used as the raw material for the best practices presented.

The full text of their announcement of the publication with additional details may be found here

We invite you to join NISO for a Roundtable Discussion on rethinking workspaces on December 9, 2021. Confirmed participants in this Roundtable include Emily Daly, Head of Assessment & User Experience, Duke University; Tony Sanfilippo, Director, The Ohio State University Press; Maria Stanton, Director of Production, Atla; Alison Masterpasqua, Head of Access and User Services, Swarthmore College and Lorin Jackson, Black Studies/Resident Librarian and Interim Head of Access and User Services (beginning Jan. 2021), Swarthmore College. 

Details about the NISO Roundtable may be found on the NISO event page

NOTE: NISO members automatically receive sign-on credentials for this event as a member benefit. There is no need to register separately. Check your institutional membership status here