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Step 6: Capitalize on assets

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      In my article, “10 Steps to a Better Library Interior,” published in 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.

      Take a step back—way back—and consider your library interior objectively. Imagine your building completely void of all furniture, equipment, and shelving. Make a list of the assets and the liabilities. One way to start this process is to consider where your customers naturally gravitate to and which areas of your library are the last to be filled on a busy day. Do you have windows that offer a beautiful view? Do you have a space with special character? Does your library contain natural building materials such as stone, wood, or brick on the interior that customers frequently compliment?

      Now consider how humans use space. We seek natural light and views, and we want to be sheltered. We appreciate choice in our surroundings to suit our mood or task. Does your building’s interior architecture offer opportunities for choice, such as areas that would make nice reading nooks? Does your seating take advantage of the natural light or views to the exterior?

      Perhaps you have wonderful windows, but shelving blocks them. Could the shelves be rotated, moved, lowered, or eliminated to let more daylight into the interior? Perhaps you have a quirky room that would make a great study lounge, but it’s being used as a staff office. Could careful planning in another area that houses staff make room for more customer space on the public floor and allow you to turn that area into a hotspot?

      With the current emphasis on open, flexible floor plates, many libraries with older buildings (such as a Carnegie library with several small rooms) may feel they are at a disadvantage when seeking to create a modern library experience. Use these rooms to your advantage by zoning your library’s activities to fit each room, or embrace the fact that the rooms can offer intimate study, reading, and social areas that will appeal to your customers.

      Often, capitalizing on your building’s assets merely requires a fresh eye, attention to your customers’ use patterns, and some elbow grease.

      Next month . . . STEP 7: ZONE YOUR INTERIOR.

    • organizing shelving to work with sources of natural light and views can create magical little spaces like this one in the Newburg Branch
    • About the Author

      Traci Engel Lesneski

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