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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Making the Most of the Space You Have

Traditional Libraries

Classical library building

Public library services are changing very rapidly, and the buildings most of us have were not designed for the functions they perform today. Public library spaces evolve over time, with layers of history and personalities embedded in the stuff that fills it.

  • When was the last time that you took a good, hard look at the space you have?
  • What can you do to improve the space so it serves you and your patrons better?

Kinds of Space

The first step in improving your space is understanding what you have

There are several different types of space in public libraries

  • Public space
    • This includes open collections, seating areas, study rooms, conference room, and meeting rooms -- any space that is typically used by patrons
  • Staff space
    • Workrooms, staff-only collection areas, offices, staff break rooms, etc.
  • Semi-public
    • These are the areas where staff and patrons typically come together or where the public is allowed only with staff present or with extra training -- service desks, meeting room kitchens, some archives or local history areas
  • Storage
    • There's never enough
  • Unprogrammed
    • This includes spaces that are required for the normal operation of the building but are not specific to libraries -- like restrooms, stairs, hallways, mechanical rooms, electrical rooms, etc.