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Managing your space 

Libraries come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, few building projects are as complex as a library in terms of a mixed audience, equipment, and purpose. 

The expectations of a library user are evolving, library services are changing, and digital tools are transforming the place libraries hold in education and society. To maintain the utilisation and requirement for libraries and resource centres, the space itself must continue to evolve and adapt. More and more, your patrons need flexible library spaces for many different reasons, such as: 

  • Places for quiet, individual study 
  • Space to collaborate on group projects 
  • Space for large-group and small-group instruction 
  • A comfortable place to relax 
  • Casual and formal meeting spaces 
  • Inspiring space for ideation and experimentation 
University,Students,Working,In,The,Library,At,Campus

These are just a few of your users’ needs, but how well do your library spaces match up? Does your furniture function well in multiple contexts? Can your library spaces easily transform for different activities?  

Libraries that do not function well due to deteriorating infrastructure, inaccessibility, poor flow or a mismatch between spaces and their current uses are some of the common reasons to undertake a refurbishment project.  

To maximize your space — and your budget — and maintain utilisation of the space, consider our top tips. 

  • 1. A Future-Fit Library

A well-considered configuration can lead to a great learning experience. Using the right layout for a task will help users focus on the task at hand, without interruption or impediment. At the same time, consideration of the flexibility you need to convert the format or space at different times will determine your choice of furniture solutions.  

Despite not having a crystal ball, as much as possible plan ahead and make sure your design maintains enough flex to accommodate and adapt to any future requirements. Using multi-purpose fixed furniture that can be configured and zoned and combining it with well-chosen mobile elements and soft furnishing is the key to a future-fit space. 

  • 2. Improve Customer Flow

Much of contemporary library design is practical, with consideration paid to accessing and managing the collection. Traditionally, library design was aimed at creating functional library spaces based on peace and quiet, order and retrieval. Today, library managers, architects and designers work on creating much more – an ambiance, an atmosphere and experiences concerning a space’s use and the target group that it addresses.  

Take time to observe how your library is used and more importantly, underutilised areas. These spaces can interrupt the flow and prevent maximum utilisation and are prime for updating or repurposing. Our designs not only encourage exploration and ensure smooth transitions from zone to zone and avoid bottlenecks but also creates layouts that entice customers into the library and make them want to return. 

  • 3. Wow Factor

Updating finishes and furniture in a library space can have a powerful impact on the feel and utilisation. Providing a choice of different seating types, mixing a colour palette and materials and texture to accommodate a wide range of tastes and needs. 

Banish dull rows of shelves and desks and open up your space with interesting shapes, curves and angles. Our Everna™ system range of shelving and configurable elements can be adapted to fit into any size or shape of space. We use colours, furniture and graphics to create a coherent visual impact.  

We believe the experience of learning – whether formal or informal – should be inspiring and that engaging and welcoming spaces will always be well utilised.  

  • 4. Consider Capacity

Libraries spaces are in basic terms a balance between space for the collection and space for seating and desks. Offer different mixes of shelving, study desks, tables and soft seating to enable you to get the right balance of capacity for different activities. 

Clever space planning is essential when it comes to supporting additional activities. Can your layout offer an attractive backdrop for a large seated audience? Are there spaces for small group meetings or collaborative working groups? Can you accommodate presentations and more creative work? Do you provide enough small, quiet spaces for reading or study? 

  • 5. Creative Zoning

Updating finishes and furniture in a library space can have a powerful impact on the feel and utilisation. Providing a choice of different seating types, mixing a colour palette and materials and texture to accommodate a wide range of tastes and needs. 

Banish dull rows of shelves and desks and open up your space with interesting shapes, curves and angles. Our Everna™ system range of shelving and configurable elements can be adapted to fit into any size or shape of space. We use colours, furniture and graphics to create a coherent visual impact.  

We believe the experience of learning – whether formal or informal – should be inspiring and that engaging and welcoming spaces will always be well utilised.  

  • 6. All-Inclusive

Your library should be welcoming and usable to people of varying abilities and backgrounds. A library space should be designed to be as inclusive as possible to best serve its community. This means going beyond the legally required accessibility and incorporating an overall attitude of inclusive design. Examples could include the whole collection being wheelchair accessible, intuitive wayfinding for the visually impaired and a range of seating to accommodate all needs and mobilities. 

  • 7. Integrated Technology

Technology and how to manage the shift to mobile devices is a strong theme for many educational libraries. As learning methods also evolve there are demands for further support such as power and data sockets, mobile device chargers, group study hubs, iPad/tablet loan and storage facilities.  

Furniture solutions incorporating extra sockets and charger points are key. Mobile units and screening, interconnecting and folding tables, stackable chairs, mobile ‘power towers’, iPad stands and trolleys become ‘part of the furniture of modern, accessible library space. 

  • Work with your building not against it 
  • Create a wow factor at every turn 
  • Showcase materials as if to a customer 
  • Maximise natural light 
  • Provide choice of formal and informal seating 
  • Avoid formal rows of desking 
  • Don’t be afraid of colour – create ambience and stimulus 
  • Mix intimate spaces with collaborative zones 
  • Maximise wayfinding and clear signage 
  • Break up straight lines and explore curves and geometric layouts 

WF Education can carry out a visual audit of your spaces and make recommendations of small and large changes to improve the customer or student experience. 

Working with the latest design software and document exchange platforms our library & space design consultants bring ideas to life with mood boards, 3D walkthroughs and visualisations. 

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