Budgeting for a Library Building

Q. Our town's library is bursting its seams, so we're beginning the exploration for a new one.  Is there any place we can look for the cost factors we need to consider?

A. Basic information on planning library buildings may be found on the ALA Library Fact Sheet 11, Building Libraries and Library Additions: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. There is a section of resources for all types of libraries, as well as groupings for various types of libraries.

Of the books referenced on the fact sheet, the one closest to what you need is architect Richard C. McCarthy's Managing Your Library Construction Project: A Step-by-Step Guide. (Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.)

Two older titles, not listed on the fact sheet, have useful chapters on cost planning (prices referenced would, of course, need to be adjusted for inflation):
•    Holt, Raymond M. Planning Library Buildings and Facilities: From Concept to Completion. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989.
•    Hall, Richard B. Financing Public Library Buildings. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1994. 

In addition, you will also want to look at the information on library buildings published each year by Library Journal.  As far as we know this is the only listing of completed buildings, and the tables include budget information and price per square foot.  The 2010 report includes numerous sidebars and tables website and will be published in the December 15 print issue.  Watch also for the April issue of American Libraries, which is devoted each year to buildings.



Many urban even suburban areas that are experiencing population growth find themselves not only with limited funding but even less available land to build upon. Our Library Department in Miami-Dade County has found partnerships that are extremely valuable. We have partnered with several Parks who have land and realize that the sharing of resources among departments is very valuable. We provide additional services as well as free Wi-Fi to persons already using parks as well as providing new customers. Other partnerships in finding land for new libraries have worked well with shopping malls and various County and City agencies as well.

Thanks, Jeff.  You are right that land for a new branch can be at a premium—and parking to go with it is likely even more of a challenge—particularly in a fully-developed area.  There can also be programmatic synergies for library users, such as following up a story hour with a few minutes on the playground.  Malls are other sites libraries have used.