Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, Seventh Edition

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Library managers, administrators, and facilities staff will find this newly updated and revised resource an indispensable tool for any construction or renovation project regardless of size or complexity.

With staff time at a premium, and library budgets that leave little room for overages, undertaking a successful library building or renovation project requires precision planning, effective communication, and focused coordination. Using a checklist approach that will ensure that no detail is overlooked, this new edition of Sannwald's classic guide will help you stay prepared and organized for every phase of your project from conception through the dedication ceremony. This planner covers crucial considerations like

  • the impacts of COVID-19, such as air quality, proper ventilation, CDC recommendations, collaborative spaces, and designing with open space in mind;
  • how the shift to digital affects library building design, completely new to this edition;
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) factors, structured to match the federal code;
  • sustainable design features, including sensors that save energy and water, and other “healthy building” topics;
  • designing makerspaces, digital media labs, or leased library enterprises;
  • disaster and recovery planning;
  • creating quiet spaces;
  • storage requirements for collections and materials-handling efficiency; and
  • important aspects of virtual services to bear in mind during physical space decisions.


  1. Building, Planning, and Architecture
    1. Indicators of Dissatisfaction with Existing Facilities
    2. Institutional Planning Team
    3. Determining Space Needs
    4. Joint Use Considerations
    5. Selecting a Library Building Consultant
    6. Choosing an Architect
    7. Client/Architect/Contractor Relationships
    8. Architectural Design
    9. Choosing a Contractor
  2. Building Construction Alternatives
    1. New Construction Considerations
    2. Building Addition Considerations
    3. Conversion of Existing Buildings for Library Use
    4. Preserving Existing Library Buildings
    5. Virtual Library Considerations
    6. Alternatives to Increasing Library Spaces
  3. Library Site Selection
    1. General Conditions
    2. Community Planning Issues
    3. Location
    4. Accessibility
    5. Size
    6. Environmental Issues
    7. Safety Issues
  4. Sustainable Design
    1. LEED Certification 
    2. Sustainable Sites
    3. Water Efficiency
    4. Energy and Atmosphere
    5. Materials
    6. Indoor Environmental Air Quality
    7. Lighting and Daylighting
    8. Roofs
    9. Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
  5. General Exterior Considerations
    1. Landscaping
    2. Parking
    3. Building Exterior
    4. Roof
    5. Bicycle Racks
    6. Flagpole
    7. Exterior Signage
    8. Loading Docks and Delivery
    9. Outdoor Trash Enclosures
    10. Outdoor Book and Media Returns and Curbside Pickups
  6. Interior Organization of Library Buildings
    1. Public Health Considerations
    2. Entrance
    3. Circulation Desk Facilities
    4. Reference Facilities
    5. Information Commons
    6. Collaborative Spaces
    7. Multimedia Facilities
    8. Media Production and Presentation Labs
    9. Special Collections, Rare Books, and Archives
    10. Reserve Book Room
    11. Faculty/Graduate Carrels and Study Rooms
    12. Group, Quiet, and Silent Study Spaces
    13. Literacy Center
    14. Young Adult Facilities
    15. Children’s Facilities
    16. Meeting and Seminar Rooms
    17. Convenience Facilities
    18. Displays
    19. Public Art
    20. Interior Signage
    21. Workroom and Offices
    22. Staff Lounge
    23. Friends of the Library
    24. Library Store
    25. Interior Storage
    26. Safe and Shelter Rooms
  7. Compliance with ADA Accessibility Standards
    1. Transportation, Parking Lots, Parking Signage, and Accessible Routes
    2. Ground and Floor Surfaces
    3. Curb Cuts
    4. Ramps
    5. Stairs
    6. Lifts and Elevators
    7. Doors
    8. Entrances
    9. Accessible Routes within the Building
    10. Drinking Fountains
    11. Toilet Rooms
    12. Toilet Stalls
    13. Water Closets
    14. Urinals
    15. Lavatories
    16. Handrails and Grab Bars
    17. Controls and Operating Mechanisms
    18. Alarms
    19. Signage
    20. Telephones
    21. Fixed or Built-in Seating and Tables
    22. Assembly Areas
    23. Building Assistance Facilities
    24. Service Animals
  8. Telecommunications, Electrical, and Miscellaneous Equipment
    1. Industry Standards
    2. General Considerations
    3. Entrance Facility
    4. Equipment Room
    5. Telecommunications Room
    6. Horizontal Pathways
    7. Cabling and Outlets
    8. Wireless
    9. Workstation Connections
    10. Workstation Equipment
    11. Telephone System
    12. Miscellaneous Electrical Equipment
    13. Electrical Power
  9. Interior Design and Finishes
    1. General Cleaning Protocols
    2. Service Desks
    3. Seating
    4. Tables
    5. Plus-Friendly Spaces
    6. Lighting
    7. Windows
    8. Flooring
    9. Walls
    10. Color
    11. Equipment List
    12. Behavioral Aspects of Space
  10. Entrepreneurial and Collaborative Spaces
    1. Makerspaces
    2. Coworking in the Library
    3. Technology Lending Library
    4. Musical Instrument Lending Library
    5. Tool Lending Library
    6. Seed Lending Library
    7. Open Educational Resources (OER)
  11. Materials Handling and Storage: Book Stacks and Shelving
    1. Conventional Stationary Stacks and Shelving
    2. Movable-Aisle Compact Shelving
    3. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems 
    4. Materials Handling Systems
    5. Remote Storage
    6. Storage and Distribution of Electronic Media
  12. Building Systems
    1. Acoustics
    2. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning Systems)
    3. Electrical Systems
    4. Lighting
    5. Plumbing and Restrooms
    6. Elevators and Escalators
    7. Internet of Things to Monitor and Control Building Systems
  13. Safety, Security, and Public Health
    1. General
    2. External Security
    3. Internal Security
    4. Fire Safety
    5. Disaster Planning
    6. Public Safety
    7. Public Health
  14. Maintenance of Library Buildings and Property
    1. Regular Routine Maintenance Considerations
    2. Building Materials
    3. Graffiti and Security
    4. Building Systems Preventive Maintenance
    5. Building Cleaning
    6. Custodial Facilities
    7. Groundskeeper Facilities
    8. Trash Enclosures
    9. Betterments and Improvements
  15. Building Construction Process, Change Orders, Occupancy, and Post-Occupancy Evaluation
    1. Construction Site Meetings
    2. Change Orders
    3. Building Acceptance
    4. Certificate of Occupancy
    5. Getting Ready for Occupancy
    6. Moving
    7. Post-Occupancy Evaluation
  16. Groundbreaking and Dedication Ceremonies
    1. Planning
    2. Event Checklist


About the Author


William W. Sannwald

William W. Sannwald is a full-time faculty member in the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University and works as a library building and administrative consultant. He was an assistant to San Diego’s city manager and was the city’s manager of library design and development from 1997 to 2004. Prior to that, he was city librarian of the San Diego Public Library. He has worked in public libraries in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and California. Sannwald received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Beloit College in Wisconsin, an MBA degree from Loyola University in Chicago, and an MALS degree from Dominican University in Illinois. He has presented papers at national and international conferences and is the author of a number of books and articles on library architecture and management. The San Diego chapter of the American Institute of Architects presented him with their highest award, the Irving Gill Award, for his contributions to library architecture, and he received the San Diego design community’s Ruocco Award for his contributions to urban architecture. During his career, Sannwald has been involved in the construction of more than fifty library buildings as either a consultant or owner’s representative in the United States, Great Britain, Angola, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates. He was elected to the International Federation of Library Systems’ Standing Committee for Library Buildings and Equipment for 2007–2011. 

Sannwald teaches a variety of upper division undergraduate and MBA courses in the management department at San Diego State University’s Fowler School of Business. He was selected as the most influential management professor and received the Outstanding Faculty Award in the Business School. In 2017 he received the Teaching Excellence Award from his peers. In 2022, he was selected as the first Glazer Outstanding Lecturer Fellow, which includes a generous stipend funded through private gifts.

Praise for previous editions

”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