Building Libraries and Library Additions: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

ALA Library Fact Sheet 11

Building new libraries, additions, and even remodeling can be a daunting task, and one that most librarians do not undertake frequently. This fact sheet provides references to the tools, resources, and advice to help you manage your library building project, whether large or small. Although this list has been segmented by types of libraries, materials listed for one type may have useful information for planning other types of buildings. There are also resources for planning specialized areas within libraries.

Please note that ALA no longer sets quantitative standards for public libraries, such as a library building with a recommended number of square feet based on population size. Such standards were last published by ALA in the 1970s. For full details on this, see our page on Library Standards.

General Information | For Planning Academic Libraries | For Planning Archives, Off-Site Shelving | For Planning Joint-Use Libraries | For Planning Public Libraries | For Planning School Libraries | Spaces for Children, Teens/Young Adults | Spaces for Seniors/Older Adults

Also see the Buildings page from the ALA Professional Tips Wiki.

The Buildings and Facilities section of the ALA Online Store quickly links to ALA's own print books, e-books, eCourses, and webinars on these subjects.

A list of books on library buildings, compiled by this office, appears at WorldCat.org, the free online database of library catalogs from across the country, in which you can search for a book title by zip code to get the closest library that has it, at:
Library Buildings at WorldCat.org

Safety and security issues can be found on ALA Library Fact Sheet 10 - Disaster Response: A Selected Annotated Bibliography.

Resources on "green" libraries and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ appear at Green Libraries.

See our resources on the building of so-called "bookless" libraries.

A continuously updated list of library building resources, including articles with photograph slideshows of distinctive library buildings, can be found at Library Buildings.


Annual Overviews

American Libraries. Vol. 45, No. 9/10 (September/October 2014): 31-53.

Previously found in the April issue, American Libraries, ALA's bimonthly member magazine, focuses on library facilities in its September/October issue again this year. The 2014 Library Design Showcase feature section begins with the Architects' Showcase, followed by the photo essays, "Designs That Last" and "ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards", both by Phil Morehart, and concludes with "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me? A Dozen Things No One Tells You about Library Building Projects" by Tim Schlak; "Collections are for Collisions: Design It Into the Experience" by Steven J. Bell; and "Winning the Space Race: Expanding Collections and Services with Shared Depositories" by Lizanne Payne.


Library Journal. 139, no. 19 (November 15, 2014): 20-41. Annual Year in Architecture issue.

Every year, Library Journal, a magazine published by Media Source, Inc., reports the results of their survey on new and newly-renovated library buildings, with a summary listing of costs and funding sources. The November 15, 2014 cover story, Year in Architecture 2014: Commons Sense, by Bette-Lee Fox, features 84 public library projects and 16 academic library projects, separated out into New Buildings, Additions, and Renovations categories, along with the Six-Year Cost Summary. As usual, an alphabetical list of all of the architecture firms (pages 34, 36) and then the Architect Showcase (pages 38-41), a special photographic advertising section for the architects, is included. This article is always reprinted (without the color photographs) in the Library and Book Trade Almanac™ annual reference publication. Additional resources in library buildings, furnishings, and equipment can be accessed via Library Journal Architecture and Buildings including the annual Spring and Fall Library By Design supplements.


General Information

ADA -- Americans with Disabilities Act.

See the online ADA resources compiled by ALA's Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA, a division of ALA), including the Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy and Library Accessibility--What You Need to Know toolkit series of fifteen tipsheets, edited by Monique DeLatte.

The ADA and Libraries post on the Ask the ALA Library Blog covers minimum aisle width between stacks.

ADA and Bookmobiles is part of Mobile Libraries.


American Institute of Architects (AIA). You and Your Architect. Washington, DC: The AIA.

Brief introduction to the architect-client relationship.


American Library Association. Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space, 3rd Edition. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011.


Barclay, Donald A., and Eric D. Scott. The Library Renovation, Maintenance, and Construction Handbook. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2011.

The freely available Library Renovation, Maintenance, and Construction Handbook excerpt (PDF) is the extensively-detailed table of contents, list of illustrations, and the preface.


Designing Better Libraries: Exploring the Application of Design, Innovation, and New Media to Create Better Libraries and User Experiences - The DBL Philosophy - Who We Are

Designing Better Libraries is a blog about design thinking and how it applies to library settings. The goal of this blog is to provide information, news and ideas that librarians can use to design a great library user experience for their communities. Among the topics we'll be covering are instructional design, innovation, technology design, and the application of new media to design – and of course – design thinking.


Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA, a division of ALA; llama@ala.org).

LLAMA's Buildings and Equipment Section offers a number of resources, including electronic discussion lists devoted to library buildings issues. See all of ALA's electronic discussion lists at <http://lists.ala.org>, including the discussion lists for LLAMA. Library buildings issues can also be discussed in the LLAMA Buildings & Equipment Section online forums at the ALA Connect social network at <http://connect.ala.org>.

See the ALA/AIA Library Building Awards and Previous Winners of the AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award Program, established to encourage excellence in the architectural design and planning of libraries. Awarded by ALA/LLAMA and AIA every two years. Additional details can be found on the AIA website at AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, including its pages for the 2015 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards, 2013 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards, and 2011 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards.

See the ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award. This biennial competition is co-sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Image galleries of the winning entries are available for viewing at the IIDA web site, including the 2014 Library Interior Design Award Winners and the 2012 Library Interior Design Award Winners.


McCarthy, Richard C. Managing Your Library Construction Project: A Step-by-Step Guide. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.


Piotrowicz, Lynn M., and Scott Osgood. Building Science 101: A Primer for Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.

The freely available Building Science 101 excerpt (PDF) of the book includes the table of contents, the introduction, chapters one through three -- Chapter 1: Planning and Other Words of Wisdom; Chapter 2: Immediate Cost-Saving Measures; Chapter 3: Beginner Building Science Lessons -- and the index.


Sannwald, William W. Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, Fifth Edition. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.

The freely available Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, Fifth Edition excerpt (PDF) includes the table of contents, the author's preface, and all of Chapter 2: Library Site Selection.


Schmidt, Aaron, and Amanda Etches. Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 2014.

The freely available Useful, Usable, Desirable excerpt (PDF) includes the table of contents, all of Chapter 1: Introducing Library User Experience, and the index.


University of British Columbia. School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. Planning and Building Libraries.

This site has been created for librarians, architects, design consultants, and students interested in all aspects of planning and building libraries. The site provides an outline of key resources that are available online. Graduate students at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia have collaborated on this project. Recommendations for further resources are welcomed. Site last updated August, 2005


WebJunction - Space Planning.

WebJunction, the online learning community of library professionals, provides a guide to selected space planning resources on its web site at WebJunction's Focus on Space Planning for Libraries. Also see Planning the Library Space from Scratch and Practical Tips for Library Building Design.


Whole Building Design Guide: Design Guidance - Libraries.

Prepared under contract to the U.S. General Accounting Office, this is a web-based portal providing government and industry practitioners with one-stop access up-to-date information on a wide range of building-related guidance, criteria and technology from a 'whole buildings' perspective. Currently organized into two major categories - Design Guidance and Project Management - at the heart of the WBDG are Resource Pages, reductive summaries on particular topics. It includes references and guidelines for the building of all types of libraries (as well as a number of other types of buildings).


Woodward, Jeannette. Countdown to a New Library: Managing the Building Project, Second Edition. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.

The freely available Countdown to a New Library excerpt (PDF) includes the table of contents, the preface and introduction, chapters one and two -- Chapter 1: Off to a Good Start; Chapter 2: The World of Architects and Contractors -- and the index. Also see Woodward's April 2, 2010 AmericanLibrariesMagazine.org article, Librarians, Self-Preservation, and Construction Budgets: Be prepared for cost overruns, finger-pointing, and bad publicity.


____. Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.


For Planning Academic Libraries

Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL).

The ACRL Standards and Guidelines page contains links to the various standards and guidelines that have been established by the ACRL. Although several of the standards include brief statements about the facilities, none contains formulas for figuring space specifications. The general standard is Standards for Libraries in Higher Education. The three "Special Topics" standards may be useful in specific contexts: Guidelines for Curriculum Materials Centers, Standards for Distance Learning Library Services, and Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries.
ACRL has teamed with LLAMA to establish the Guide For Architects and Librarians: Resources for Planning Higher Education Library Spaces Wiki, to provide a basic framework for architects, planners, and librarians embarking on planning and design of libraries for higher education. This Guide will provide information for thinking about the design of new and renovated library space, and point toward additional resources that can support, inform and enhance the academic library design process.


Bailey, D. Russell and Barbara Gunter Tierney. Transforming Library Service Through Information Commons: Case Studies for the Digital Age. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.

See the Web Extra page for Transforming Library Service Through Information Commons (additional resources available via delicious.com at http://delicious.com/alalibrary/informationcommons).


Collins, Boyd, et al. Building a Scholarly Communications Center: Modeling the Rutgers Experience. Chicago: American Library Association, 1999.


Leighton, Philip D. and David C. Weber. Planning Academic and Research Library Buildings. 3rd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 1999.


Woodward, Jeannette. Creating the Customer-Driven Academic Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.

The freely available Creating the Customer-Driven Academic Library excerpt (PDF) includes the table of contents, all of Chapter 1: Reinventing the Academic Library, and the index. Also see the Web Extra page for Creating the Customer-Driven Academic Library.


For Planning Archives, Off-Site Shelving

Nitecki, Danuta A. and Curtis L. Kendrick, eds. Library Off-Site Shelving: Guide for High-Density Facilities. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001.


Pacifico, Michele F. and Thomas P. Wilsted, editors. Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects, and Engineers. Chicago: Society of American Archivists (available for purchase from American Library Association), 2009.


Payne, Lizanne. "Winning the Space Race: Expanding Collections and Services with Shared Depositories". American Libraries Vol. 45, No. 9/10 (September/October 2014): 50-53.


Wilsted, Thomas P. Planning New and Remodeled Archival Facilities. Chicago: Society of American Archivists (available for purchase from American Library Association), 2007.


For Planning Joint-Use Libraries

See ALA Library Fact Sheet 20 - Joint-Use Libraries: A Bibliography for additional resources.

"Combining Facilities: Joint School-Public Libraries" in Erikson, Rolf and Carolyn Markuson. Designing a School Library Media Center for the Future. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.

"Design of Joint Libraries" in Gunnels, Claire B, Susan E. Green, and Patricia M. Butler. Joint Libraries: Models That Work. Chicago: American Library Association, 2012.

"Joint-Use Libraries: The Ultimate Form of Cooperation" in McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Westport: CT: Greenwood, 2003.


For Planning Public Libraries

Bryan, Cheryl. Managing Facilities for Results: Optimizing Space for Services. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.

Building from the proven Results Series model, this volume dovetails with the basics outlined in The New Planning for Results: A Streamlined Approach. See the Managing Facilities for Results Workforms that are freely available online via E-Learn Libraries.


Dahlgren Anders C. Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Public Library Development, 2009. Available online only at:
http://pld.dpi.wi.gov/pld_plspace


Koontz, Christine M. Library Facility Siting and Location Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.


McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Westport: CT: Greenwood, 2003.


Murphy, Tish. Library Furnishings: A Planning Guide. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.


Sannwald, William W. "Designing Libraries for Customers." Library Administration & Management. 21, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 131-138.


For Planning School Libraries

American Association of School Librarians (AASL, a division of ALA).

Transforming the Physical Space of the Library of the Learning Standards & Program Guidelines Implementation Toolkit.


Baule, Steven M. Facilities Planning for School Library and Technology Centers. 2nd ed. Worthington, OH: Linworth Books, 2007.


Dickinson, Gail K. "Library Spaces, Library Faces (PDF)". Knowledge Quest Vol. 42, No. 4 (March/April 2014): 4-5.
Excerpt: "AASL has moved beyond quantitative guidelines and standards. Those old rules of thumb governing space and size were based almost solely on opinion rather than on solid research. AASL now offers support that has much more solid value, such as the guidelines, position statements, toolkits, and other aids that demonstrate what school librarians should be doing in the library. Check out eCOLLAB and the wealth of resources that illustrate the modern school library. Explore the latest developments to prove why the school library is important to your school in School Library Research."


Erikson, Rolf and Carolyn Markuson. Designing a School Library Media Center for the Future. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.


Sullivan, Margaret. Library Spaces for 21st-Century Learners: A Planning Guide for Creating New School Library Concepts. Chicago, IL: American Association of School Librarians, 2013.


For Planning Specialized Areas in Libraries

Spaces for Children, Teens/Young Adults

Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Library Standards for Juvenile Correctional Institutions. Library Standards for Juvenile Correctional Facilities. Chicago: Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), American Library Association, 1999.

Additional prison library resources at https://delicious.com/alalibrary/prison_libraries compiled by ALA Library.

Bolan, Kimberly. Teen Spaces: The Step-by-Step Library Makeover. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.

See the Web Extras available for Teen Spaces. Read Chapter 1, Understanding Teens and Their Space (PDF) via WebJunction.

Brown, Emily. "Teen Space on a Dime." YALSA Blog: The Official Blog of the Young Adult Library Services Association. Wednesday, April 14th, 2010. http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2010/04/14/teen-space-on-a-dime/.

"Children's Areas: (Quietly?) Entertain while Encouraging Learning" in Murphy, Tish. Library Furnishings: A Planning Guide. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

Cranz, Galen and Eunah Cha. "Body-conscious Design in a Teen Space: Post-occupancy Evaluation of an Innovative Public Library (PDF p.46 of 84)." Public Libraries. 45, no. 6 (Nov/Dec 2006): 48-56.

"Designing Library Space for Children and Adolescents" in McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Westport: CT: Greenwood, 2003.

Farrelly, Michael G. Make Room for Teens!: A Guide to Developing Teen Spaces in the Library. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

Feinberg, Sandra, and James R. Keller. Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places. Chicago: ALA, 2010.

See the pair's American Libraries article, posted on AmericanLibrariesMagazine.org on March 14, 2010, Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places: How to Carve out a Niche That Epitomizes Service, by Sandra Feinberg and James R. Keller.

Lushington, Nolan. Libraries Designed for Kids. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2008.

The freely availabale Libraries Designed for Kids excerpt (PDF) includes the table of contents, preface, and the introduction.

National Teen Space Guidelines. Approved by the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of ALA) Board of Directors, May 2012.

"Teen Spaces: Created from Their Input" in Murphy, Tish. Library Furnishings: A Planning Guide. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

"Using Teen Patrons as a Resource in Planning Young Adult Library Space in Public Libraries" in McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Westport: CT: Greenwood, 2003.


Spaces for Seniors/Older Adults

"Creating a Senior-Friendly Library" in McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Westport: CT: Greenwood, 2003.

Kleiman, Allan M. "Senior Spaces: The Library Place for Baby Boomers, Older Adults & Their Families (PDF)." Presented at the World Library and Information Congress: 74th IFLA General Conference and Council (10-14 August 2008, Québec, Canada).


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NOTE: Previous versions of this fact sheet can be accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine using the original URL <http://www.ala.org/library/fact11.html>.


Last updated: April 2015


For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: library@ala.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.