Skip to main content

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

MPLCP Library Building Programs: Pandemic Legacies

What's "normal"?

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to — Dave Hollis

Lessons from COVID-19

The years 2020-2021 were world-shaking, life-changing, and  traumatic. The pandemic still lingers and many people remain cautious about using public spaces. The effects will continue for years to come.

Some lasting considerations for library buildings:

  • Flexibility is even more important - the ability to easily reconfigure spaces and furniture make responding to an unexpected situation, emergency, or disaster much easier
    • Modular service desks can be reconfigured or moved to other areas of the building to act as an access point or a barrier
    • Mobile shelving can be reconfigured to facilitate distancing if required
    • Two-person study tables are easier to reconfigure than traditional larger ones
    • Increased storage should be planned for furniture when distance is needed and/or lingering discouraged
  • Clear sightlines are critical to facilitate services while enabling distance between individuals and groups
  • Intuitive wayfinding through colors, symbols, and signage reduces the need for close contact between patrons & staff
  • Self-service can reduce close contact between staff and patrons
    • Self-checkout
    • Mobile device lending kiosks
    • After-hours pickup lockers
  • Furniture choices should be easy to clean
  • Indoor air quality should be monitored and maintained at a healthy level
    • Have your HVAC system assessed by a professional engineer
    • Properly install filters with no gaps, and change filters regularly, as recommended by the manufacturer
    • Install true MERV-13 or higher filters, if the HVAC system can handle that amount of filtering
    • If the fans and ducts cannot handle MERV-13, or there is no mechanical ventilation, use standalone or fixed HEPA filtration units
    • Mechanical (controlled) ventilation is more effective than natural (operable windows) ventilation
  • Available outdoor space can be used for library services and programming when weather permits
    • Consider planning or adding roofed outdoor space adjacent to the entrance
    • Extend robust wi-fi and provide seating for use of library-owned or person mobile devices outside the building
    • Add walk-up or drive-up windows and/or drive-through book drops
    • Provide outdoor lockers with codes for contactless pick-up service
    • Open vestibules to the outside with folding storefront doors or other techniques, creating an indoor/outdoor connection