Skip to main content

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

2023-2024 Grant Round: Planning & Design Phase: Independent Design Review

Independent Design Review

Independent Review Team

The team of independent reviewers will include:

  • A librarian who has been through the MPLCP process;
  • A construction professional with experience in public buildings;
  • An architect not affiliated with any project in the grant round.

Review Criteria: Design Guidelines

  1. Library Space Design Guidelines. Reviewers will use these guidelines in evaluating the MPLCP Level of Design:
    1. Functionality
      1. Adjacencies for workflow and user experience are adequate to optimal;
      2. Any existing structure’s use is purposeful and serves a community need;
      3. Interior spaces are adequate to optimal for serving intended purpose;
      4. Service points are positioned for optimal sightlines and access;
      5. Service points have adequate storage and accommodate the staffing and service models;
      6. Staff offices accommodate the staffing and service models;
      7. Acoustical separation is optimized;
      8. Storage is adequate to optimal;
      9. Navigation throughout building is intuitive;
      10. Electricity is available at all seating locations;
      11. Data is available at all locations housing technology;
      12. All bathrooms have floor drains, changing stations, and are gender inclusive;
      13. Cultural inclusivity and community representation are incorporated into the design and signage;
      14. Parking supports the least path of resistance and reduces barriers to access;
      15. ADA and AAB regulations are not merely just met; accessibility is optimized;
      16. The site is suitable and convenient.
    2. Efficiency;
      1. Solar ready;
      2. Mechanicals are all-electric or can easily transition to all-electric;
      3. Siting of new construction allows for passive energy optimization;
      4. Daylighting used effectively;
      5. All LED interior and exterior lighting;
      6. Manageable landscaping for drought conditions;
      7. Lifecycle costs have been evaluated and optimized;
      8. Routes of circulation are logical, and paths of least resistance exist where possible;
      9. Little to no dead space in design.
    3. Flexibility
      1. Fixed elements (elevators, stairs, restrooms, etc.) are on perimeter;
      2. Millwork and casework are minimal and necessary;
      3. Modular service desks;
      4. Mobile technology;
      5. Mobile shelving where appropriate;
      6. Self-service options optimized;
      7. Pandemic-related design elements incorporated where possible (outdoor programming, contactless service solutions, storage capacity, etc.);
      8. After-hours lock off for program/meeting room without need for staff oversight;
      9. Elements that hinder re-arrangement of spaces minimized or eliminated;
      10. The overall design allows for changing needs over the next thirty years;
      11. Adequate to optimal electrical outlets and data throughout the building.
    4. Durability
      1. Site optimizes resiliency, or necessary steps will be taken to bolster resiliency;
      2. Materials and equipment have been chosen for optimal lifecycle costs;
      3. Materials are durable and appropriate for a public building.
    5. Equity
      1. The design aligns with the DEI priorities outlined in the building program.
  2. Sustainable and Resilient Design Guidelines

Resilient design will be informed by the Climate Resilience Design Standards & Guidelines published by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Grantees may use the Climate Resilience Design Standards Tool from the Resilient MA Action Team (RMAT) ( and the Renewable Energy Integration and Optimization (ReOPT) tool from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (

  1. Other program and/or square footage use and cost standards may be developed by the MBLC and the Division of Capital Planning and Operations.