Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, Sixth Edition

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The needs and functions of library buildings have certainly changed over the last decade, but the necessity for planning intelligently and thoroughly hasn't. In fact, tighter budgets and the complex demands of both library users and staff call for careful preparation now more than ever. Whether you're building from the ground up or simply remodeling, the success of your project hinges on planning, coordination, and communication. This new update of Sannwald's classic guide will help you stay prepared and organized for every phase of your undertaking from conception through the dedication ceremony. Using a popular checklist format that ensures no detail is overlooked, this planner covers crucial considerations like

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) factors, structured to match the federal code;
  • sustainable design features, including sensors that save energy and water;
  • designing makerspaces, digital media labs, or leased library enterprises;
  • disaster and recovery planning;
  • creating quiet spaces;
  • collaborative collections and materials-handling efficiency; and
  • important virtual presence aspects to bear in mind during physical space decisions.

Library managers, administrators, and facilities staff will find this book a matchless tool for any construction project regardless of size or complexity.


1.    Building Planning and Architecture


A.    Indicators of Dissatisfaction with Existing Facilities
B.    Institutional Planning Team
C.    Determining Space Needs
D.    Joint Use Considerations
E.    Selecting a Library Building Consultant
F.    Choosing an Architect
G.    Choosing a Contractor
H.    Architectural Design

2.    Building Construction Alternatives



A.    New Construction Considerations
B.    Building Addition Considerations
C.    Rehabilitation/Renovation of Existing Buildings to Library Use Considerations
D.    Preserving Existing Library Buildings
E.    Virtual Library Considerations
F.    Alternatives to Library Spaces

3.    Library Site Selection



A.    General Conditions
B.    Community Planning Issues
C.    Location
D.    Accessibility
E.    Size
F.    Environmental Issues

4.    Sustainable Design



A.    LEED Certification (New)
B.    Sustainable Sites
C.    Water Efficiency
D.    Energy and Atmosphere
E.    Materials
F.    Indoor Environmental Air Quality
G.    Lighting and Day Lighting
H.    Roofs
I.    Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

5.    General Exterior Considerations



A.    Landscaping
B.    Parking
C.    Building Exterior
D.    Roof
E.    Bicycle Racks
F.    Flagpole
G.    Exterior Signage
H.    Loading Docks and Delivery
I.    Outdoor Trash Enclosures
J.    Outdoor Book and Media Returns

6.    Interior Organization of Library Buildings



A.    Entrance
B.    Circulation Desk Facilities
C.    Reference Facilities
D.    Information Commons
E.    Multimedia Facilities
F.    Media Production and Presentation Labs
G.    Special Collections/Rare Books/Archives
H.    Reserve Book Room
I.    Faculty/Graduate Carrels and Study Rooms
J.    Group, Quiet and Silent Study Spaces
K.    Literacy Center
L.    Young Adult Facilities
M.    Children's Facilities
N.    Meeting and Seminar Rooms
O.    Convenience Facilities
P.    Displays
Q.    Public Art
R.    Interior Signage
S.    Workroom/Offices
T.    Staff Lounge
U.    Friends of the Library
V.    Library Store
W.    Interior Storage

7.    Compliance with ADA Accessibility Guidelines



A.    Guidelines
B.    Transportation, Parking Lots, Parking Signage, and Accessible Routes
C.    Ground and Floor Surfaces
D.    Curb Cuts
E.    Ramps
F.    Stairs
G.    Lifts and Elevators
H.    Doors
I.    Entrances
J.    Accessible Routes within the Building
K.    Drinking Fountains
L.    Toilet Rooms
M.    Toilet Stalls
N.    Water Closets
O.    Urinals
P.    Lavatories
Q.    Handrails and Grab Bars
R.    Controls and Operating Mechanisms
S.    Alarms
T.    Signage
U.    Telephones
V.    Fixed or Built-in Seating and Tables
W.    Assembly Areas
X.    Building Assistance Facilities
Y.    Service Animals

8.    Telecommunications, Electrical, and Miscellaneous Equipment



A.    General Considerations
B.    Entrance Facility
C.    Equipment Room
D.    Telecommunications Room
E.    Horizontal Pathways
F.    Cabling and Outlets
G.    Wireless
H.    Workstation Connections
I.    Workstation Equipment
J.    Telephone System
K.    Miscellaneous Electrical Equipment
L.    Electrical Power

9.    Interior Design and Finishes



A.    Service Desks
B.    Plus-Friendly Spaces
C.    Seating
D.    Tables
E.    Lighting
F.    Windows
G.    Flooring
H.    Walls
I.    Color
J.    Equipment List
K.    Behavioral Aspects of Space

10.    Entrepreneurial and Collaborative Spaces



A.    Makerspaces
B.    Co-working in the Library
C.    Technology Lending Library
D.    Musical Instrument Lending Library
E.    Tool Lending Library
F.    Seed Lending Library

11.    Materials Handling and Storage: Book Stacks and Shelving



A.    Conventional Stationary Stacks and Shelving
B.    Movable-Aisle Compact Shelving
C.    Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS)
D.    Materials Handling Systems
E.    Remote Storage

12.    Building Systems



A.    Acoustics
B.    HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems)
C.    Electrical Systems
D.    Lighting
E.    Plumbing and Rest Rooms
F.    Elevators and Escalators
G.    Internet of Things to Monitor and Control Building Systems

13.    Safety and Security



A.    General
B.    External Security
C.    Internal Security
D.    Fire Safety
E.    Disaster Planning

14.    Maintenance of Library Buildings and Property



A.    Regular Routine Maintenance Considerations
B.    Building Materials
C.    Graffiti and Security
D.    Building Systems Preventive Maintenance
E.    Building Cleaning
F.    Custodial Facilities
G.    Groundskeeper Facilities
H.    Trash Enclosures
I.    Betterments and Improvements

15.    Building Occupancy and Post-Occupancy Evaluation



A.    Building Acceptance
B.    Certificate of Occupancy
C.    Getting Ready for Occupancy
D.    Moving
E.    Post-Occupancy Evaluation

16.    Groundbreaking and Dedication Ceremonies



A.    Planning
B.    Event Checklist



William W. Sannwald

William W. Sannwald was assistant to the city manager and manager of library design and development from 1997 to 2004, and was city librarian of the San Diego Public Library from 1979 to 1997. He is now a full-time faculty member in the business school at San Diego State University, where he teaches senior and MBA classes in management. He also works as a library building and administrative consultant. He is the author of numerous books and articles on library architecture and management, including Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, and has presented papers at national and international conferences. Past president of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA), Sannwald was twice a jury member of the joint American Library Association/American Institute of Architects awards. He is the recipient of the San Diego American Institute of Architects chapter’s highest honor, the Irving Gill Award, for his contributions to library architecture.

”An essential resource. Utilization of the checklist will eliminate any element of doubt that planning bodies might endure during the library planning process of the new or refurbished space."
— Journal of Hospital Librarianship

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