The Role of the Architect and Librarian in Planning and Design of Library Buildings - Essay Prowess

The Role of the Architect and Librarian in Planning and Design of Library Buildings

The Role of the Architect and Librarian in Planning and Design of Library Buildings

The role of the architect and librarian in planning and design of library buildings


Libraries have been critical towards human development for many centuries. They are significant landmarks which show how developed a society was is and intends to be in future. The planning and design of new library buildings is therefore a very important community project and as such defines the future the society envisions. The librarian and architect are the two most important stakeholders towards the realization of societal needs with respect to new libraries. As this paper will show, the librarian integrates a multidisciplinary approach towards projecting the needs of the society which the architect in turn brings into being.


The 21st Century calls for intelligent planning and designing of public buildings which places major emphasis on space, user requirements and services. It is important to note that planning and design should begin prior to the selection of an architect (Abbasi). This implies that background research is essential towards providing a clear vision defining a building as well a viable business plan relative to the intended use of the building. This paper seeks to discuss the role architects and librarians play towards the planning and designing of libraries.

Most librarians are involved in the art of designing and planning of new libraries only about once through the course of their professional career. Fortunately, this rare experience for librarians can be appraised through collaborative efforts with professional peers as well as other professionals from different industries with the experience in such matters (Dahlgren, Eigenbrodt and Romero). Planning and design is a critical aspect which involves expanding the existing ken and experience and as such can be realized through a number of ways.

Role of the librarian

Through conducting comprehensive literature reviews on the literature materials widely available on this particular subject, librarians are able to relate to the historical and current perspectives with regard to planning and designing libraries. Literature reviews give great insights to library building planning as it offers general information as well as specific details regarding the planning process (Dahlkild 15). This also enables librarians gain more insights into the role they play in planning and designing library building with respect to such features as furniture, lighting, space, the integration of information technology and many more. Through books, periodicals, magazines and online databases can offer librarians the best avenue with which to critically understand the role they are required to play in planning and designing libraries.

Visiting existing libraries is another great way with which librarians can further understand their role in the planning and design of new libraries. Existing libraries not only offer great inspirational ideas but enable librarians come to terms with the successes as well as perceived failures exhibited in already existing libraries (Edwards 197). This is however only possible after a comprehensive literature review which serves to identify and locate libraries of interest. As an important member of the library building planning and design team, visiting existing libraries allows for a great way to initiate the planning process. Modern day aspects such as robotic storage mechanisms, self issue machines, diversity in study spaces and intelligent application of space can only be improved upon through these visits.

Through conducting surveys way ahead of the planning process allows librarians to get a critical view of what library users seek to have in a proposed new library building. These users not only include the general public but also include other library staff members (Elmborg 346). It is also important to incorporate the local municipality views on proposed buildings as they are major stakeholders towards city planning and development. Libraries are often used for a very long time and as such should incorporate futuristic aspects as envisaged by librarians.

Networking is another great means with which librarian can come to terms with their role in planning and designing new library buildings. This implies that the librarian should be in the fore front of the planning and designing of new libraries as he or she is involved at every stage of the planning process. Through literature reviews, visiting exemplary library building and conducting surveys, librarians are able to network with the right individuals to involve in the entire process (Faulkner-Brown). This includes stages beginning from formulating a vision for the new library building, formulating a viable business plan, short listing architects all thorough to the administration of the new building. It is important for librarian to underscore the collaborative cooperation of all these different stakeholders. The librarian has to be at the fore front of agitating stakeholders’ minds for novel ideas, suggestions, support and commitment.

In creating a vision for a proposed new library building, the future intentions of the physical structure have to conform to envisioned societal, economic, developmental and cultural objectives. These are issues that should stand out from the objectives heralded by the librarian. This is a core element of the research conducted prior to the planning and design of a new facility. One of the most critical issues is the utilization of space (Jankowska and James 165). This is essentially the sole purpose of a new library, to intelligently employ space to project the librarian’s vision.

Integrating future librarian objectives with regard to a new library involves employing various approaches. This include the storage and availability of printed literature, integrating new and innovative technologies in information technology and more so adapting to new and emerging media trends (King). As a significant public space aimed towards further human development, new library spaces have to conform to projected visions relative to social and cultural transformations. Emerging social models as witnesses in knowledge driven societies such as in Europe, North American and Asia, industrial societies tend to employ available library space with regard to evolutionary tendencies in social and cultural values systems.

The role of librarians may differ in other countries but one constant role of the librarian is to ensure libraries are not only functional but flexible. This implies that the librarian has to rigorously engage the architect towards the planning and design of sophisticated, functional and identifiable space (Nitecki). The librarian is therefore tasked with ensuring the architects develops architectural plans which are functional, varied, conducive, adaptable, interactive, accessible, safe, secure, environmentally sustainable, efficient and suitable for the application of information technology.

Role of the architect

Building a new library requires conforming to a number of administrative, technical and financial procedures. This arduous process is initiated at the planning stage where the intended nature of the proposed new building is not only defined but also decided upon. The step that follows involves the formation and realization of the physical structure that will house the library (Somerville and Margaret 677). This is where the role of the architect sets in. the architect is professionally required to transform the librarian’s needs, desires, vision and future expectations of a new library into reality. The architect is tasked with ensuring the space available is transformed into an attractive, flexible and functional physical structure (Somerville and Margaret 677). The spaces within the library should be designed by the architect in such a manner as to offer great inspirations to all users and stakeholders to behave in the way envisioned by the librarian. In communicating with the architect, the librarian should ensure proper explanations as to the vision, functionality, social and cultural transformation expected so that he can design a great library.

The architect has to receive critical information with regard to how space will be utilized, dimensions required, the people to use designated spaces, how spaces will relate with each other and how users will relate towards entering into desired spaces. The architect has to play an important role towards ensuring the vision of the librarian is converted into an intelligent use of space (Somerville and Margaret 677). He or she will integrate the various detailed expectations based on the literature research conducted by the librarian, notes from visits made to existing libraries, and the expectations of the various stakeholders as highlighted though surveys conducted by the librarian.

The architect has to ensure that the finished project captures the heart of the librarian and more so thee very stakeholders (Plough, Dahlkild and Nan 3320). This implies that the architect has to incorporate the unique nature defined by governmental, cultural, educational, geographical, urban practices and philosophies adhered to by the community the library is intended to serve.


As has been highlighted in this paper, the librarian is the most important stakeholder in the planning and designing of a new library building. The architect on the other hand is essential towards actualizing the vision of the librarian. The librarian has to integrate the governmental, cultural, educational, geographical, urban practices and philosophies needs of the community with regard to the use of the library. The collaborative interaction and communication between the librarian and architect is critical towards not only meeting the needs of the community but also ensuring that new libraries inspire other librarians and architects towards the intelligent use of space.

Works Cited

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Dahlgren, A. C., O. Eigenbrodt, K. Latimer and S. Romero. Key issues in building design: how to get started in planning a project. Den Haag : IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section, 2009. Web. 2 Dec. 2014 <>

Dahlkild, Nan. “The emergence and challenge of the modern library building: ideal types, model libraries, and guidelines, from the enlightenment to the experience economy.” library trends 60.1 (2011): 11-42.

Edwards, Brian W. “Sustainability as a driving force in contemporary library design.” Library trends 60.1 (2011): 190-214.

Elmborg, J. K. (2011). Libraries as the Spaces Between us. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(4), 338-350.

Faulkner-Brown, H. Some thoughts on the design of major library buildings. // Intelligent library buildings : proceedings of the tenth seminarof the IFLA Section on Library Buildings and Equipment. / edited by Marie-Françoise Bisbrouck and Marc Chauveinc, 1997. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>

Jankowska, Maria Anna, and James W. Marcum. “Sustainability challenge for academic libraries: planning for the future.” College & Research Libraries 71.2 (2010): 160-170.

King, Helen. “The Academic library in the 21st Century-what need for physical space?.” (2012).

Nitecki, Danuta A. “Space assessment as a venue for defining the academic library.” Space 81.1 (2011).

Plough, Dahlkild and Nan, Christian. Library architecture: history. // Encyclopedia of library and information sciences. / Bates, Marcia J.; Maack, Mary Niles, Eds. New York: CRC Press, 2010. Str. 3313-3325.

Somerville, Mary M., and Margaret Brown-Sica. “Library space planning: a participatory action research approach.” Electronic Library, The 29.5 (2011): 669-681.