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Step 3: Use less for more impact

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      In my article, “10 Steps to a Better Library Interior,” published in the September 15, 2011, issue of the Library Journal Library by Design Supplement, I outline several tips on how to improve a customer’s experience in your library building without spending money on a major renovation. I have had many follow-up requests for more information, so I have decided to offer a deeper discussion on each step in this blog series.

      When it comes to design, the adage “less is more” is often true. When it comes to library interiors, the mantra should be “simplify.” Humans naturally seek patterns to help us make sense of the world around us. Therefore, visual chaos or disjointedness, whether consciously noticed or not, can affect our perception of a building. How easy is it to find what we need? How comfortable is it to be in? How helpful is the staff? Do we want to visit the library again?

      Keep the idea of simplifying in mind when considering application of interior color or pattern, the use of wayfinding or informational signage, or adding fixtures and furniture. In the “Remove the Barriers” blog post, I wrote about considering the whole of your library interior when making a decision about updating your space. This approach will help you prioritize and maximize impact. Eclectic only works if you have a unifying thread. Use color, line, scale, or material to unify the design.

      Many libraries collect materials display fixtures the way children collect rocks: without regard to what they already have and with total belief that the latest is the greatest. Before purchasing the latest/greatest display from your favorite library furniture catalog to add to your collection of the latest/greatest displays of the past several years, consider first:

      • What do you aim to accomplish, and is an additional fixture the best way to achieve it?
      • Does it relate in material, line, or color to your existing displays? f not, can you donate the existing displays and update all of them at the same time?
      • Does the display provide a clear hierarchy of where to direct your customers’ attention? Or are you ultimately creating visual chaos rather than visual clarity?

      If everything is special, nothing is special.

      Next month . . . STEP 4: UNCLUTTER.

    • display fixtures that are visually consistent with one another help to unify a library space
    • About the Author

      Traci Engel Lesneski

      • Interior Designer / Principal
      • traci@msrdesign.com
      • 612 991 7764
      • View Bio