The Practical Handbook of Library Architecture: Creating Building Spaces that Work

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

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Distilling hard fought wisdom gleaned from hundreds of successful library construction projects they've supervised or coordinated, the authors present this definitive resource on library architecture. With a special emphasis on avoiding common problems in library design, in a down-to-earth manner they address a range of issues applicable to any undertaking. From planning completely new library buildings to small remodeling projects, they offer specific how-to and how-not-to guidance. Packed with lists and headings to allow for easy scanning, this handbook

  • provides nuts-and-bolts guidance on the entire process of planning, design, and construction, including "snappy rules" summarizing each chapter;
  • covers new construction, remodeling and expanding of existing buildings, and conversion of non-library spaces to libraries;
  • explains how library buildings actually function as objects, and how that applies to library design;
  • reviews typical design problems of existing libraries, and advises libraries on how to avoid creating dysfunctional buildings and spaces;
  • shows how to collaborate productively with planners, architects, and contractors;
  • discusses the technical needs of basic library spaces, including collection storage, user seating, meeting and conference rooms, craft rooms, study areas, service desks, restrooms, and staff workspaces; and
  • includes careful consideration of technical requirements relating to lighting, electrical systems, security systems, elevators, staircases, and other areas.

Library directors, staff, and planning professionals will want this handbook close at hand before, during, and after any library construction project.


Part I    Introduction

Chapter 1    Introduction

Chapter 2    More Than Two Hundred Snappy Rules for Good and Evil in Library Architecture


Part II        About Library Buildings

Chapter 3    The Library Construction Process

Chapter 4    Basic Configuration of Library Spaces

Chapter 5    Evaluating Library Buildings by Walking Around

Chapter 6    Dysfunctional Designs

Chapter 7    Converting Non-Library Spaces to Public Libraries


Part III    Basic Steps

Chapter 8    Programming

Chapter 9    Design

Chapter 10    Site Selection

Chapter 11    Zoning, Covenants, and Codes

Chapter 12    Construction

Chapter 13    Remodeling and Expanding Library Buildings

Chapter 14    Building Costs

Chapter 15    Funding

Chapter 16    User Seating

Chapter 17    Collection Storage

Chapter 18    Public Service Desks

Chapter 19    Program and Study Rooms

Chapter 20    Display and Exhibit Areas

Chapter 21    Restrooms

Chapter 22    Staff Workrooms

Chapter 23    Staff Facilities

Chapter 24    Storerooms


Part VI    Technical Issues

Chapter 25    Lighting

Chapter 26    Elevators, Staircases, Railings, and Ramps

Chapter 27    Electrical Systems

Chapter 28    Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Systems

Chapter 29    Plumbing Systems

Chapter 30    Security

Chapter 31    Walls, Floors, and Ceilings

Appendix: Vocabulary



Fred Schlipf

Fred Schlipf has been hanging out in library buildings since the early 1940s (at about the age of four, he turned out all the lights in the Detroit Lakes (Minnesota) Public Library one evening—a happy moment that is still both bright and dark in his memory), and has been working for libraries and teaching about libraries and consulting on library buildings since he was 17. He’s been a library school faculty member for over 50 years, and he spent nearly 33 years as director of The Urbana Free Library, the public library of Urbana, Illinois (just down the street from the University of Illinois). He’s done formal building consulting for between 150 and 200 libraries and quick consulting for many more, and he visits library buildings everywhere he goes. He has a BA from Carleton College and an MA and PhD from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago. He has served on dozens of committees and task forces of the American Library Association, Illinois State Library, Illinois Library Association, local library groups in Illinois, and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. He was Illinois Librarian of the Year in 2000.

John A. Moorman

John A. Moorman has worked as director of five public libraries and a multi-type library system, most recently the Decatur (Illinois) Public Library and the Williamsburg (Virginia) Regional Library. He has a PhD from the University of Illinois library school. He has been active in state and national library associations. When not working with buildings, he developed a specialty in legislative matters, served as a registered lobbyist, and chaired legislative-related committees for the Illinois and Virginia Library Associations. He is a past president of the Virginia Library Association and a lifelong elected honorary member of that association. Within the American Library Association (ALA) he served on the Public Library Association’s Board of Directors, the ALA Council, and the ALA Executive Board, as well as serving on, and chairing, many committees and task forces.

"This hefty volume is an essential reference book for every library director or librarian tasked with building a new library or renovating an existing library/space ... The title says it all!"

"The authors write in a clear, approachable style seasoned with wit and practical wisdom (see especially chapter 2, 'More Than Two Hundred Snappy Rules for Good and Evil in Library Architecture'). The book ends with a helpful glossary of architecture and building terms, including this gem: 'Cape—Never trust an architect who wears a cape.' An essential source for current and aspiring library directors, LIS students, and anyone working in a library who needs to improve its space.”
— Booklist (starred review)

"Likely to be among the definitive works on library architecture, this book is exhaustive in covering what one needs to know when taking on a library construction project ... This logical, encyclopedic approach will aid all who are planning or engaged in library building projects, large or small.”

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