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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

MPLCP Library Building Programs: Essential Elements

Patience says:

The program document should begin with a description of your community and of the library's history. This can be derived from such existing documents as your Planning Process, an annual report or a published history of the Town or Library. Keep in mind that your primary audience is the Architect and his or her colleagues.

State Regulations say:

605 CMR 6.06(6) says that applications [for Standard Grants round must include a copy of the Library Building Program. Required elements are listed in the "Essential Elements" box.

Essential elements

The Library Building Program must include:

  • a concise history of the library and the community;
  • community analysis with demographics and a 30 year population projection
  • the library's mission, values, and service roles;
  • previous and current facility and organizational planning efforts, if applicable, including strategic plan and/or master plan excerpts involving facility improvement goals;
  • description of the existing building;
  • analysis of current collections, services, and programs;
  • pertinent trends and statistics, including staffing and public use;
  • a Needs Assessment
  • site & exterior considerations;
  • area descriptions including primary services/functions, seating capacity, collection capacity, occupancy, furniture and equipment, architectural or other considerations, adjacencies, and net square footages; for shared building public library projects, area descriptions of any proposed shared spaces must be included;
  • preliminary total gross square footage figure based on all area descriptions and guidelines from the publications Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians and Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space and including at least 30% allowance for unassigned space;
  • energy-related goals for the library/community;
  • diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities for the new building and how this program addresses them;
  • special circumstances for the library and/or the community not included elsewhere in the building program;
  • requirements for:
    • sustainability
    • accessibility
    • security
    • acoustics
    • data & telecommunications
    • lighting & electrical
    • furniture, fixtures & equipment
    • ergonomics
    • signage;
  • evidence of community engagement efforts in creating the Library Building Program;
  • photographs with descriptive captions (site, building exterior, building interior) of existing facility as well as potential new locations, as applicable.

What, not how

The building program must concentrate on telling the architect what must be done, not how it should be done! The major contribution made by the architect to the project is skill in design. Therefore, the program should deal in concepts, information and data. No attempt should be made to draw floor plans or to use other devices to force a particular solution on the design professionals.

--From Planning Library Buildings and Facilities: From Concept to Completion (1989), p. 44, by Raymond M. Holt