Library Facility Design • Proposing Design Changes

Every library has a different set of circumstances when it comes to getting a library redesign off the ground. However, there are some best practices to help across the board. We'll look at creating and sharing design proposals, tapping community resources, input on the design team, and communication tools.

To start, you'll need to know who the decision makers are in your school building and district. Whose signature do you need to push changes through? Once you know who you need to address, create a proposal that shows how teaching and learning will improve with changes—big and small—in the facility.

A great way to ensure authenticity in this process is to draw from your needs assessment and use quotes directly from student and teacher voices to illustrate what the needs are. To take it even further, create an inquiry project around aspects of the redesign, such as learning styles, foundations of design, technology integration, furniture repurposing, or other parts of the process. This can provide a truly authentic learning product for students as they share their findings with the stakeholders.

Another important component of the proposal is adopting a long-term perspective on the project. How will any changes you suggest work in the future? If you are picking a trendy color, style, or signage, does it also have the potential to be timeless? For the bigger items, longevity should be a higher priority than being "of the moment." You also want to consider the sustainability of materials and their arrangement. How will they deal with wear and tear, high traffic, frequent moving, et cetera?

Anticipating and responding to the questions the administration might have will strengthen your proposal. You want to make sure you've got your "ducks in a row" and be prepared to explain your vision for the benefits that will come from any shifts. Vendors can be a good resource for information about this process, too.

Once the administration is on board, provide input on who will be part of the design team. For smaller redesigns, look around the school community. Is there anyone with skills and know-how that can be applied to your library redesign? Check in the IT department and the facilities department. Consult with them on what changes can be handled in house. For example, can they remove non-load bearing walls or make simple alterations to furniture for greater adaptability?

If you're doing a big enough redesign to require an architect or professional designer to come on board, find out what district protocol is for hiring outside contractors. The bids and decisions might be out of your hands, but try to advocate for using a firm that has designed libraries before. If it is their first time tackling a library, be prepared to communicate the specific ways that the library space is used.

As the work gets underway, make sure everyone involved in the project knows the objectives, is aware of their responsibilities within the team, and understands the commitment required for the duration of the project. Record any meetings, either with written notes or using a digital recorder. Review these notes--and any shared with you by others--before subsequent meetings.

As you work with your fellow library workers, the administration and school board, community members, architects, and designers, remember the most important members of the school library redesign: the students that will benefit from the changes you're making. Keep their needs at the forefront.

MLA Citation Editorial Team, SLC. "Library Facility Design: Proposing Design Changes." School Library Connection, January 2019,

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Entry ID: 2171743

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