[For publication in early 2006]
The opportunity to be involved in the creation of a library building must be one of the most exciting and rewarding features of a librarian’s career, especially when the project is over and the library is being well-used by an appreciative public. Some public librarians have considerable experience of building projects, including conversions and refurbished libraries, although not perhaps of erecting a large or very large library, while others have none or little at all. For everyone, however, there is a first time, and while the librarian may well look forward to the pleasure and the challenge of such an enterprise, they may also feel less than well-prepared. In part this may be because the planning and design of libraries was not addressed by the librarian’s professional education, at least not in recent years.
Each new public library building represents a unique amalgam of the possibilities for library service and architectural and construction practice. While some elements may be innovative and ground-breaking, especially in a period of change, many fundamental planning and design issues have to be considered time and time again from project to project. This book does not purport to cover everything, or to offer instant solutions but sets out and reviews those concepts, issues, topics and options about which the librarian must be concerned and which will need to be fully explored in the planning and design process.
Many of these topics, such as public library purpose, siting, building size, the use of converted buildings, the deployment of information technology, the preservation of library materials, dual-use buildings and the working environment, often have a substantial literature in their own right.
The content of this book, therefore, can be seen as part of the investigative, information-gathering process that precedes a firm idea of what is wanted and expected of a proposed library building. Its aim is to save the librarian's time, perhaps stop the reinvention of the wheel on occasions, and to guide and enlighten the librarian's thought processes in the belief that a better public library building will result.
In addition to concepts and issues, the book discusses also the basic principles and practices of the planning and design of public library buildings. These have been described at various times in the past but necessarily need to be reiterated for today’s librarians.
The work is intended primarily for a British audience and records matters that relate to that UK context. However, the experiences and library buildings of other countries are drawn on and a number highlighted as case studies. This wide-ranging coverage should broaden its appeal to an international audience. The book demonstrates that the UK continues to create public library service points, both big and small, that enliven and shape its local communities and that this is part of the world-wide public library scene.
List of illustrations, plans and figures
1 Mission, roles and buildings
2 Public buildings and public libraries today
3 Public libraries, their size, services and shape
4 ‘Location, location, location’
5 Alternatives to new buildings
6 Sustainability, safety, security and systems
7 The planning, design and construction process
8 Key qualities for a successful building
9 Design concepts and building features
10 Organization and layout of the library interior
11 Anything it needs to be?
1 Biennial UK Public Library Building Awards 1995 onwards
2 Library Building Award Program [USA], 1991 onwards