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

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

Read a blog post drawn from the book now!

Library directors, board members, and planning professionals will want this newly updated “essential source” (Booklist, starred review) close at hand before, during, and after any library construction project.

“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,” raved Choice about the first edition. Now, with experienced library architect Huberty onboard to contribute his own expertise, the second edition comprises an even more focused and accessible handbook. It covers everything from planning completely new library buildings to small remodeling projects. With a dash of humor the authors point out many common dysfunctional ideas that have managed to permeate library buildings, using them to guide readers towards adhering to functional essentials of library design at every step in the process. Packed with lists and headings to allow for easy scanning, this resource

  • offers expanded information on several topics, such as healthy building designs, accessibility for users with disabilities, construction management, and acoustics;
  • provides nuts-and-bolts guidance on the entire process of planning, design, and construction, including "snappy rules" summarizing each chapter;
  • explains how library buildings actually function as objects, and how that applies to library design;
  • 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 updated consideration of technical requirements relating to HVAC, lighting, energy conservation, security and insurance, elevators, staircases, and other areas.

Readers interested in Professional Review Copies or LIS Instructor Desk Copies may email to request a PDF galley of the text.


Part I         Nearly Endless Observations on Good Library Design
Ch. 1    More than 250 Snappy Rules for Good and Evil in Library Architecture

Ch. 2        Essentials of Good Library Design
Introduction / Flexibility / Expandability / Accessibility / Effective Lighting / Good Acoustics / Staircases That Are Pleasant to Climb / Functional Room Shapes / Simple Connecting Hallways / Safe Environments / Low-Maintenance Designs / Avoiding Popular Designs That Cause Problems  / Snappy Rules on Essentials of Good Library Design

Ch. 3        The Basic Configuration of Successful Library Spaces
Introduction / External Configuration / Internal Layout and Room Shapes / Features That Require Extreme Care in Order to Be Functional / Traffic Flows / Artistic Ceiling Shapes / Snappy Rules on the Basic Configuration of Successful Library Spaces

Ch. 4        Evaluating Library Buildings by Walking Around
Introduction / Reasons for Evaluating Buildings on Your Own / The Problems with Asking the Staff / Appearance / Sense of Welcome / Staff Service Points / Natural Light / Artificial Light / Acoustics / Electrical Wiring / HVAC / Furnishings / Storage / Fragile Construction Materials / Flexibility / Functional Arrangement of Rooms / Ceilings / Acrophobia / Floor Coverings / Ornamental Spaces / Protection from the Elements / Security / Expandability / Water Features / Accessibility / Snappy Rule by Evaluating Library Buildings by Walking Around

Ch. 5        Dysfunctional Designs
Bad Lighting / Bad Acoustics / Bad Ventilation / Inflexibility / Unexpandability / Soffits of All Kinds / Bad Staircases and Handrails / Cheap Substitutes for Real Elevators / Bad Shelving / Bad Balconies and Walkways / Nasty Ramps / Bad Sight Lines / Bad Security / Bad Wiring / Insufficient Storage Space / Indoor Water Features / Funny-Shaped Interior Spaces / And Many More / And a Few Designs That Can Be Made to Work but Require Serious Preliminary Exploration by Architects, Engineers, Owners, Librarians, and Building Consultants

Part II: From Overcrowding to Ribbon Cutting
Ch. 6        Essential Teamwork
    Introduction / How Do Libraries Avoid Serious Problems? / What Can You Do to Prevent Serious Problems Due to Bad Communication or to Elimination of Essential Players from Crucial Decision-Making?

Ch. 7        Building Programs
About Building Programs / Input on Programs / Typical Contents of Programs / Methods of Space Estimating / Who Should Write Your Building Program / How to Hire Library Building Consultants / Programming Methods / Two-Phase Building Programs / What to Do When Owners and Architects Ignore Your Building Program / Quick Space Estimates Using Formulas / Snappy Rules on Building Programs

Ch. 8        Hiring an Architect
Introduction / Locating Architectural Firms / Investigating the Prior Work of Architectural Firms / Proposals from Architectural Firms / Special Problems with Teams / Evaluating Proposals / Interviews / Final Selection / Contracting with Architects / Design Competitions / Snappy Rules on Hiring an Architect

Ch. 9        Site Selection
Introduction / Evaluating Potential Sites / Special Site Needs of Various Types of Libraries / Snappy Rules on Site Selection

Ch. 10        Design
Introduction / Basic Steps in the Design Process / Schematic Design / Design Development / Contract Documents / Snappy Rules on Design

Ch. 11        Accessibility
Introduction / The Americans with Disabilities Act / Access for People with Limited Mobility / Access for People with Limited Eyesight / Access for People with Limited Hearing / Access for People with Acrophobia / Access for People with Vertigo / Access for People with Claustrophobia / Access for People with Limited Senses of Direction / What You Can Do to Protect Your Library’s Accessibility / Snappy Rules on Accessibility

Ch. 12        Surfaces and Materials
Introduction / Health Problems / Exterior Walls / Roof Coverings / Interior Walls / Floors / Ceilings / Snappy Rules on Surfaces and Materials

Ch. 13        Building Codes
Introduction / Building Codes / Additional Codes / Snappy Rules on Building Codes

Ch. 14        Bidding
Introduction / Delivery Methods / Getting Ready to Bid / The Bidding Process / Bid Openings / Bid Evaluation / Alternatives to Bidding / Awarding Contracts / Snappy Rules on Bidding

Ch. 15        Construction
Introduction / The Contractor’s Role in Construction / The Architect’s Role in Construction / The Librarian’s Role in Construction / Coordination and Quality Control / Money / Recurring Tasks / Construction Close-out / Post-occupancy Inspection / Public Events during and after Construction / Snappy Rules on Construction

Ch. 16        Remodeling and Expanding Library Buildings
Introduction / Comparative Costs / Problems with the Reuse and Expansion of Existing Library Buildings / Phasing Expansion Projects / Snappy Rules on Remodeling and Expanding Library Buildings

Ch. 17        Converting Non-library Buildings to Public Libraries
Introduction / Rationales for Conversions / Common Problems with Conversions / Types of Buildings Often Suggested for Conversion to Libraries / Summary / Snappy Rules on Converting Non-library Buildings to Public Libraries

Ch. 18        Shared Buildings
Introduction / Types of Shared Facilities / Things You Can Do / Snappy Rules on Shared Buildings

Ch. 19        Building Costs
Introduction / Capital Costs / Anticipating Operating Costs / Anticipating Capital Renewal and Replacement Costs / Snappy Rules on Building Costs

Ch. 20        Funding
Introduction / Sources of Money / Snappy Rules on Funding

Part III: Essential Spaces All Libraries Need
Ch. 21        User Seating
Introduction / How Much User Seating? / How Library Furniture Is Ordered / Tables / Chairs / Placement of User Seating in Library Buildings / Snappy Rules on User Seating

Ch. 22        Collection Storage and Display
Introduction / Steel Cantilever Shelving / Alternatives to Steel Cantilever Shelving / Shelving Placement / Other Types of Storage / High-Density Storage / Estimating Required Space for Collection Storage / Snappy Rules on Collection Storage and Display

Ch. 23        Public Service Desks
About Public Service Desks / Typical Functions of Public Service Desks / Placement of Public Service Desks / Evaluating Proposed Public Service Desks / Types of Public Service Desks / Public Service Desks and Security for Staff / Common Problems in the Design of Public Service Desks / Library Supply Company Service Desks / Snappy Rules on Public Service Desks

Ch. 24        Program, Activity, and Study Rooms
Introduction / General Features of Typical Rooms / Types of Program, Activity, and Study Rooms / Private Use of Program, Activity, and Study Rooms / Snappy Rules on Program, Activity, and Study Rooms

Ch. 25        Display and Exhibit Areas
Introduction / Open Exhibit Areas / Display Cases / Wall Spaces for Hanging Artworks / Pinnable Surfaces / Security Issues / Permanent Works of Art / Exterior Displays / Combined Libraries and Museums / Policies on Displays and Exhibits / Snappy Rules on Display and Exhibit Areas

Ch. 26        Restrooms
Introduction / Building Codes / Fixtures and Equipment / Accommodations for Children and Infants / Family Restrooms / Size and Locations of Restrooms / Security / Lighting / Planning for Maintenance / Snappy Rules on Restrooms

Ch. 27        Staff Workrooms
Introduction / General Considerations for Staff Workrooms / Individual Workrooms / Workroom Furnishings / Staff Conference Rooms / Specialized Workrooms / Workspaces in Otherwise Public Areas / Required Workroom Sizes / Snappy Rules on Staff Workrooms

Ch. 28        Staff Facilities 
Introduction / Staff Lunchrooms / Staff Restrooms / Staff Coat and Purse Storage / Staff Mailboxes / Staff Bike Storage and Showers / Snappy Rules on Staff Facilities

Ch. 29        Storerooms
Introduction / Locations of Storage Spaces / Assigned Storage Spaces / Meeting and Program Room Storage Spaces / Mechanical Equipment Storage Spaces / Describing Storage Spaces in Building Programs / Protecting Storage Spaces from Looters Who Covet Your Space / Snappy Rules on Storerooms

Part IV: Technical Issues
Ch. 30        Elevators, Staircases, Railings, and Ramps
Introduction / Elevators / Staircases / Railings / Ramps / Snappy Rules on Elevators, Staircases, Railings, and Ramps

Ch. 31        Lighting
Introduction / An Impressively Short History of Library Lighting in the Last Century / A Quick Formula for Good Library Lighting / General Lighting Concepts / Types of Light Sources / Lighting Strategies / Energy-Saving Ideas / Common Lighting Problems and How to Avoid Them / Working with Natural Light / A Final Word on Lighting / Snappy Rules on Lighting

Ch. 32        Electrical Systems
Introduction / Electrical Circuits / Snappy Rules on Electrical Systems

Ch. 33        HVAC
Introduction / Basic HVAC Vocabulary / HVAC Basics / Energy Conservation / Considerations of Function / Common HVAC Systems / Old Libraries / Operations and Maintenance / Snappy Rules on HVAC

Ch. 34        Plumbing Systems
Introduction / Water Supplies / Wastewater / Stormwater / Special Room Considerations / Water “Features” / Snappy Rules on Plumbing Systems

Ch. 35        Security
Introduction / Security through Building Design / Theft-Control Systems / Theft of Personal Possessions / Entrance and Exit Control Equipment / Intrusion Alarms / Fire-protection Systems / Humidity Control / Video Surveillance Systems / Miscellaneous Issues in Patron and Staff Security / Public Relations Implications / Staff Training on Security / Snappy Rules on Security

Ch. 36        Insurance
Introduction / Types of Insurance Coverage / Possible Property Coverages / Non-Property Insurance / Action in Case of Loss / Snappy Rules on Insurance

About the Authors

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.

Joe Huberty

Joe Huberty grew up in a small branch of the Milwaukee Public Library and was doomed to be an architect after reading Harold and the Purple Crayon. Too many years later, he is a partner with Engberg Anderson Architects. He has spent the last 30+ years planning and designing award-winning and much-loved libraries across the nation, mostly so he can hang out with librarians. Joe sees architecture as a practical art that provides future-friendly, pragmatic, and functional space that is comfortable, aspirational, and inspirational. Libraries are the ultimate embodiment of the relationship between people, services, and space. His work for public and academic libraries has been the subject of multiple presentations at state and national conferences. Joe is a licensed architect in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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.

Praise for the first edition

"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.”
— Choice