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Building Libraries and Library Additions: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 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--academic (college/university) libraries, public libraries, and school libraries--materials listed for one type may have useful information for planning other types of buildings.


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

This brief introduction to the architect-client relationship is available online as a colorful Adobe Reader PDF document (download the free Adobe Reader to access it properly), at:

American Libraries. 37, no. 4 (April 2006): 28-72.

Every April, American Libraries, ALA's monthly member magazine, focuses on library facilities. Photographic essay, "Libraries = Cultural Icons: 2006 Showcase of New and Renovated Facilities," leads off the April 2006 issue with full-color photos of 32 buildings, followed by "Preserving the Past by Looking into the Future" by Joseph C. Rizzo and "When Aesthetics Meet Access" by Corrine H. Smith, which  both discuss renovated Carnegie libraries, and then "Construction Funding 101" by Leslie Burger and Nicholas Garrison; "Extreme Library Makeover: One Year Later" by Joan E. Bernstein and Kathy Schalk-Greene; and "Pump Up Your Patrons" by Larry Wilt and Freeman A. Hrabowski III.

Buildings and Equipment Section, Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA). Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2001.

This text offers suggestions and guidelines from the Facilities Committee of the Buildings and Equipment Section of LAMA, a division of ALA. These suggestions are designed to aid in the planning for physical space requirements in library buildings. They help the reader project total area; figure space needed to effectively use things like computer stations, filing cabinets, photocopiers, tables, conference rooms, and shelving; compute space for specialized user groups; and determine the area needed for staff work areas. This text provides illustrations and floor plans to make the guidelines clear.

Cirillo, Susan E., and Robert E. Danford. Library Buildings, Equipment, and the ADA: Compliance Issues and Solutions. Chicago: American Library Association, 1996.

This collection of essays considers a wide range of issues dealing with how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects libraries. The text covers issues such as building design, adaptive technology, furnishings and equipment, and security. Additionally, it explains the how the ADA came about and how it is structured. The various contributors walk the library planner through the confusing issues around the ADA so that quality service can be provided for all library users.

Dewe, Michael, ed. Library Buildings: Preparation for Planning. New York: K.G. Saur, 1989.

This set of essays prepared by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Building and Equipment Section includes classic discussions on the relationship between librarian and architect. Of special note is Margaret Beckman’s "Using a library building consultant."

Habich, Elizabeth Chamberlain. Moving Library Collections: A Management Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

This book is devoted to planning library moves, whether shifting an expanding collection within an existing building or moving a whole library into a new facility. For building planners, the initial two chapters, "Determining the Size of Existing Collections" and " Planning for Growth," will be the main interest. Habich considers the different space needed for different types of library materials and describes various ways to accommodate future growth.

Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA, a division of ALA).

The LAMA Library Buildings Consultant List is a self-selected directory of architects, librarians and building planners having at least five recent consultancies with library building planning, development and construction. Published on the Internet only and updated continuously.
LAMA regularly presents a LAMA Regional Institute one-day workshop with advice on both academic and public library building projects. See upcoming dates at the page for Managing Library Building Projects: From Identifying the Need to Post-occupancy Evaluation.
LAMA'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, including those for LAMA. Information on registering for these is available at the ALA ListProc Web Interface page.

Library Journal. 131, no. 20 (December 2006): 42-56.

Every December, Library Journal, a magazine published by Reed Business Information, focuses on library building and buildings. The December 2006 cover story, Betwixt and Be Teen, by Bette-Lee Fox, which features 160 public library projects and 29 academic library projects, resides on the Library Journal web site at Statistics include costs, square footage, volume and seat capacity, funding sources and amounts, and the name of the architects. A special photographic advertising section for the architects is included.

MacCarthy, Richard C. Designing Better Libraries: Selecting & Working with Building Professionals. 2nd ed. Fort Atkinson, WI: Highsmith Press Handbook Series, 1999.

Written by an architect, this is a guide to early key stages of a building project. It provides useful advice on selecting and working with the architect and the other building professionals who will assist you throughout your project.


Mayo, Diane, and Sandra Nelson. Wired for the Future: Developing Your Library Technology Plan. Chicago: American Library Association, 1999.

Although written primarily from a public library perspective, the topics covered -- the planning process, identification of technology needs, reviewing options, selecting the infrastructure, and managing the implementation process -- are universal. There are technical notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and workforms.

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

Remote storage of little-used research materials is a relatively new solution to building problems. This collection of essays by those who have planned and managed such facilities is a useful guide through cost, design and preservation issues, as well as to the issues that arise once a facility is in operation.

Sannwald, William W. Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations. 4th ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001.

This list of over 1,500 questions on nearly every aspect of library building projects is designed by Sannwald to ensure that the reader covers all details in a building project. From the site selection, to planning and architecture, to ADA compliance, to shelving, to security, this guide will help you evaluate all phases of the building project. This checklist would be most effective when paired with one of the step by step manuals on this list.

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.

Whole Building Design Guide - 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. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

Each phase of the project from the initial steps of conceptualizing the building program to dedicating the finished library has a chapter devoted to it. Each chapter includes "tips and tales," bibliographies, and lists of resources. Special attention is given to ADA requirements and renovation of historic buildings.


Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL). ACRL Standards and Guidelines.

This 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, Guidelines for Distance Learning Library Services, and Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries.

Bazillion, Richard J. and Connie Braun. Academic Libraries as High-Tech Gateways: A Guide to Design & Space Decisions. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

Bazillion and Braun help the academic library planner face the challenge of creating a flexible but technologically sound building that will be ready for the future. While they do discuss furnishing and equipping the building, the authors spend a majority of the text focusing on the design features required to make effective uses of new technology. Using pictures and floor plans, this book expertly laces theory with first-hand examples of technology in action.

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

This text uses the authors’ experiences at Rutgers to demonstrate how to establish a facility that employs new technology to bring together a multitude of information formats. This type of facility provides users with access to resources within and beyond the library walls. The authors describe the building process, examine potential problems, and provide solutions to ensure success. They focus on how facility design, funding, and technology considerations will impact quality research and instruction.

Hawthorne, Pat and Ron G. Martin, eds. Planning Additions to Academic Library Buildings: A Seamless Approach. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.

This text presents three case studies about successful library additions. These additions followed a "seamless approach," that blends the new addition into the existing library. Each case study presents detailed floor plans, decision methodology, and words of advice. They explore real-world examples of how library additions can transform and reinvigorate an existing library.

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

Leighton and Weber have updated their classic text on planning and building academic and research libraries. This highly detailed book works through the building process and tries to show the reader how to solve potential problems before they occur. Leighton and Weber discuss design theory, the planning process, working with architects, policy decisions, staff preparation, fund-raising, space requirements, seating accommodations, budgeting, additions and renovations, technological considerations, and much more. This 800-page reference work covers these subjects by using the authors’ first hand knowledge, floor plans, and illustrations.

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities: Libraries -- Higher Education.
The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF) provides links to a wide range of resources, including references to reports, books, and journal articles, on the planning, design, construction, and operation of libraries in higher education institutions.


Brawner, Lee B and Donald K. Beck. Determining Your Public Library’s Future Size: A Needs Assessment Planning Model. Chicago: American Library Association, 1996.

Brawner and Beck discuss how to apply the needs assessment process to the public library setting. They teach the reader how to assess a library’s future space needs by using planning tools, surveys, and models that are easily adaptable to unique circumstances. The second half of the book takes the reader step-by-step through the entire process in a model library. The authors provide floor plans, charts, and sample documents to fully illustrate the building process.

Dahlgren Anders C. Planning the Small Library Facility, 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 1996.

Dahlgren presents the library planner from smaller communities and institutions with a brief overview of the facility planning process. He emphasizes team building, program statements, site selection, and general design considerations. This concise text includes floor plans, photos, and first hand experiences to give the inexperienced planner valuable tools to take on a building project.

Dahlgren, Anders C. Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Public Library Development. Available online only at

This web document is a brief outline is intended to help librarians and library trustees determine whether to initiate a facilities planning process. The process described depends on the concept that library space needs are based on what a library must house in order to serve its community adequately. This outline defines six broad types of library space -- collection space, reader seating space, staff work space, meeting space, special use space, and nonassignable space (including mechanical space). It suggests how library goals relating to each of these areas can be projected to meet future needs and provides a way to translate resulting service assumptions into space needs. Once completed, it is possible to estimate a library’s space needs, assess the adequacy of their library’s existing overall square footage, and determine if a more detailed study is called for.

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

In this handbook, Koontz provides guidance in selecting a public library location that will optimally serve the community. She discusses siting criteria, location research, and location models. This is done through the use of case studies and personal experience. Koontz helps the reader identify who is using the library, and how to improve services to those who are currently not served. She demonstrates that the location of library facilities should be treated as a primary concern when creating an effective and used library.


Libris DESIGN is a library facility planning information system and downloadable database that was developed for California Public Library planners. Although the Libris DESIGN software includes a powerful and complex database that requires training in order to be properly utilized, the site includes a set of Libris Design Planning Documentation that may be used freely.

Lushington, Nolan and James M. Kusack. The Design and Evaluation of Public Library Buildings. Hamden, CT: Library Professional Publications, 1991.

Lushington and Kusack explore the process of designing and evaluating space in public libraries. Part one of the book discusses library design considerations and emphasizes flexibility to accommodate growth over time. The authors discuss the various roles the library plays in the community, and how the library can incorporate the needed features to fill these roles. Part two discusses how the building, once occupied, can be brought into line with the intended design. This section contains evaluation methods to ensure that program goals are met. While this is an excellent source, the reader should be aware that it does not cover how the rise of the Internet has affected library design.

McCabe, Gerard B. and James R. Kennedy. Planning the Modern Public Library Building. Greenwood, 2003.
This collection of 22 essays by librarians and architects in the U.S. and Australia covers all aspects of public library building planning, from gaining support for the new library to selecting the furniture and doing the landscaping. There is also an annotated bibliography to provide access to other material.

Public Library Association (PLA, a division of ALA).
The 1999 PLA Spring Symposium included the program, "Planning, Designing, and Building the Perfect Library." Outlines of some parts of the program are available online; see Impact of Technology by Jeffrey Scherer, and the AIA online tutorials, What do Architects do? And how can they help your organization? and Learn More About Working with an Architect, which includes the section, Twenty Questions to Ask Your Architect.


American Association of School Librarians (AASL, a division of ALA).
The 2005 ALA Annual Conference included the Independent Schools Section program, "Designing the School Library of the 21st Century: Best Practices." Freely available online are the handouts, "Best Practices" program presentation, an Adobe Reader PDF version of the program's original Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, Not Just Along For The Ride: Building Planning With The Librarian In The Driver’s Seat, and "Best Practices" bibliography, again an Adobe Reader PDF file, titled, School Library Facility Planning Bibliography

Erikson, Rolf and Carolyn Markuson. Designing a School Library Media Center for the Future. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001.

Sharing their experiences of working on more than 100 school building projects, two expert school library media specialists draw a road map for becoming building-savvy and avoiding school library renovation pitfalls. They explain how to implement new school library standards and demystify changes resulting from technology to create the school library media center of the future.

Hart, Thomas L. The School Library Media Facilities Planner. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2006.

As stated by the publisher: "This handbook shows librarians, media specialists, and educators how they can transform their school library or media facility into the knowledge center of their school. Tom Hart advocates re-designing school libraries so that they can impact students and set them on the path to future academic and professional success. Practical, step-by-step chapters cover facilities as they relate to teaching-learning, the knowledge center, open learning, information literacy, and the new goals for the knowledge society. Detailed guidance is offered for the facilities planning process (for both new and existing) including developing the team, needs assessment, planning documents, spatial relationships, special considerations, and the roles of library consultants and facilities planners."

Klasing, Jane P. Designing and Renovating School Library Media Centers. Chicago: American Library Association, 1991.

Klasing assists school media center planners in opening the necessary dialog with administrators and creating the necessary preparation to design effective media centers. She describes building a planning team, dealing with architects, and selecting furnishings. At the heart of her approach is the educational specifications program statement, which provides an overarching educational framework that guides team members and architects through the design process. While this source is excellent, it was written before the Internet, and is therefore dated concerning technological issues.

Knowledge Quest. 31, no. 1 (September/October 2002): 7-35.

The September/October 2002 issue of Knowledge Quest, journal of ALA's American Association of School Librarians (AASL, a division of ALA) was its Books & Bricks Issue, and featured several articles on school library buildings and facilities, including a few that are freely available online (see linked titles). Editor Debbie Abilock begins the issue with Facility Dreams, which leads to "Transformation of a School Library Media Center" by Lynette Mitchell; School Libraries: A Design Recipe for the Future by Henry Myerberg; Developing Bid Specifications for Facilities Projects by Steve Baule; "Information Technology Planning: Computers in the School Library—How Many Are Enough?" by Carol Simpson; FAQs about Facilities: Practical Tips for Planning Renovations and New School Library Media Centers by Mary Anne Lenk, and Liz Gray's Independent Schools column, "The Library that We Built."

Lau, Debra. "The Shape of Tomorrow." School Library Journal. 48, no. 3 (March 2002): 57-60.

A brief article describing the collaboration between the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York City Board of Education to involve top architectural firms in the redesign of 10 school libraries. Includes a sidebar article, "Redesigning on a Shoestring" (which appears on page 59). Both stories reside on the School Library Journal web site at

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities: Libraries/Media Centers.
A gem of a site, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF) provides links to a wide range of resources, from references to books and journal articles on the design of K-12 school libraries to sample city and state guidelines. The site also provides resources on technology requirements.

Usalis, Marian D. "The Power of Paint: Refurbishing School Libraries on a Budget." School Library Journal. 28 (February 1998): 28-33.

Usalis guides the school media specialist through the process of cost-effectively renovating the school library. Not only does she move through the renovation process but she also offers practical advice on team building, fundraising, design tips, bargain hunting, staff recruitment, and budgeting.

Materials listed in this fact sheet that are published by the American Library Association are available through the ALA Online Store.

For all other materials, contact the publishers directly, or check the collection at your local public library.

February 2007

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:; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.

Related Links

Design Considerations for School Library Media Centers (State of Wisconsin)