Collaborative Library Design: From Planning to Impact

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  • About the author
  • Reviews

Talking about why collaboration is so important is one thing—but taking an in-depth look at the ways it works (and sometimes doesn’t work) in real-world design projects is both more revealing and instructive. Award-winning architect Gisolfi does exactly that in this essential new book, presenting detailed case studies of ten design projects from public, academic, and school libraries that identify paths to success as well as hazards to avoid. Inside, library planners, designers, and administrators will find practical guidance directly applicable to their own undertakings, regardless of size or complexity. This book

  • examines ten library design projects from a range of institutions, such as an academic library recovering from a fire, a high school library transitioning into the 21st century, and a public library that was transformed over many decades from a one-room schoolhouse to a 48,000-square-foot building;
  • includes plentiful illustrations, photos, diagrams, and plans that explain the buildings;
  • presents essays for each project written by the board member or academic administrator who participated and contributed to the planning, and the architect who lead the design team;
  • features honest evaluations of each project from a librarian responsible for the day-to-day operation in the new space, complete with observations of how patrons now use the facility; and
  • offers a closing essay discussing new trends in library design that will help assure the library’s position as a vital civic institution.

Through the real-life examples in this book, readers will learn how the successful modification of existing library buildings or the creation of new buildings requires the active participation and effective collaboration of library board members, administrators, librarians, and architects.

Introduction: Collaborative Design,
by Peter Gisolfi


Part I    Public Libraries

Darien Library––Darien Connecticut

  • Planning the Darien Library of the Future, by Kimberly D. Huffard
  • Darien Library Relates to Its New England Setting, by Peter Gisolfi
  • Darien Library: A Partner in Civic Initiatives, by Alan Kirk Gray

Longwood Public Library––Middle Island, New York

  • From a One-Room Schoolhouse to a 48,000-Square-Foot Building, by Gail Lynch-Bailey and Kathrine Soscia
  • A Natural Landscape Suggests a Focus for the Longwood Public Library, by Peter Gisolfi
  • A Community Embraces the New Building, by Suzanne Johnson and Lisa Jacobs

Bronxville Public Library––Bronxville, New York

  • Planning an Expansion and Transformation of a Well-Loved Library, by Janet C. Lentz and Eloise L. Morgan
  • A Transformed Library Maintains the Original Vision, by Peter Gisolfi
  • Librarian Involvement in the Design Process Benefits Patrons and Staff, by Pat Root, Tessymol John, and Marianne Wingertzahn

Dobbs Ferry Public Library––Dobbs Ferry, New York

  • An Active Library Emerges from a Unique Village Site, by Julie Lowy
  • Two Settings Present an Architectural Challenge, by Peter Gisolfi
  • New Library Offers Expansive Interiors and River Views, by Edward Canora

Byram Shubert Library––Byram, Connecticut

  • A Small Branch Library Expands to Meet the Needs of Its Patrons, by Jane Marsh
  • In the New Library, Children and Adults Work Harmoniously, by Peter Gisolfi
  • Let There Be Light, Let There Be Space, by Miguel Garcia-Colon


Part II    Academic Libraries

Sternberg Library at Hackley School––Tarrytown, New York

  • Thinking Big Produces a Positive Result, by Philip Variano
  • The Iconic Library Building Represents the Spirit of Hackley, by Peter Gisolfi
  • The Sternberg Library at Hackley: After a Fire, Renewal, by Brianna Judkins

Scarsdale High School Library––Scarsdale, New York

  • The Vision for the New Library Takes a Classical Form, by Michael McGill
  • A Gymnasium Becomes an Academic Library, by Peter Gisolfi
  • New Teaching and Learning Spaces Attract Students, Teachers, and the Community, by Phyllis DiBianco

Timothy Dwight Library at Yale University––New Haven, Connecticut

  • The Expansion and Transformation of a Residential College Library, by John Loge
  • Student-Run Library Expands to Three Levels, by Peter Gisolfi
  • Forging a Sense of Connection between Students, Their Colleagues, and Their Studies, by Alex Werrell

Moss Library at the Agnes Irwin School––Rosemont, Pennsylvania

  • Moving a School Library into the Twenty-First Century, by Kathleen G. Putnam
  • Connecting a Library of Separate Spaces, by Peter Gisolfi
  • Two-Level Library Accommodates Multiple Activities Simultaneously, by Julie Diana

Browning School Library––New York City, New York

  • Creating a Coherent School from Multiple Acquisitions, by Stephen M. Clement, III
  • A Small Academic Library Accommodates a Range of Student Needs, by Peter Gisolfi
  • A Quiet Gem Becomes a Destination, by Sarah Murphy


Conclusion: Creating the Essential Library, by Peter Gisolfi
About Peter Gisolfi

Peter Gisolfi

Peter Gisolfi, AIA, ASLA, is senior partner of Peter Gisolfi Associates, Architects and Landscape Architects, in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, and New Haven, CT. He is a professor and former chairman of the School of Architecture at The City College of New York, and was previously an adjunct associate professor of architecture at Columbia University. He has authored more than 100 articles on architecture and landscape design, and has served as a workshop leader, lecturer, and juror. In his introduction to Peter Gisolfi’s book, Finding the Place of Architecture in the Landscape, Vincent Scully wrote, “The most important feature of Mr. Gisolfi’s work is that it always deals with buildings and landscape together.”

"One of the finest elements of this volume is the collection of striking photographs showing the results of the projects, often with both before and after images so as to emphasize the enhancements that have been made. Detailed floor plans, with before and after diagrams, supplement most of the ten articles. Librarians involved with renovation or construction planning, and those simply interested in the subject, will find useful ideas about modernizing or upgrading their facilities."

"Presenting ten handsomely illustrated case studies—five public, five school or academic—Gisolfi demonstrates best practices for architects and stakeholders to work together on successful renovations. This book takes readers through the life cycle of featured projects, from initial challenges through brainstorming and design to the assessment of the finished building ... A solid starting point for those considering a library renovation or shopping for design services—or simply imagining the possibilities."
— Library Journal

"Only superlative adjectives, such as 'amazing,' 'beautiful,' or 'wonderful,' can be used to describe Peter Gisolfi’s latest book ... This book exemplifies the power and wisdom of collaboration. Each of the short essays in each chapter are filled with useful information and suggestions that any library, regardless of type, will find to be illuminating and though-provoking. The many full-color photographs in the book make the whole experience of reading or browsing this book to be a wonderful experience."
— Public Library Quarterly