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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: User Studies & Precedents

ACRL and LLAMA have joined forces to provide a basic framework for architects, planners, and librarians embarking on the planning and design of libraries for higher education.


William Oxley Library, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

William Oxley Library, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio


AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award winners:

ELI Learning Spaces (e-book, freely available): Chapters 14- 43 are case studies of individual campus buildings, including libraries, classroom buildings, and student unions, which have a strong technology component.

The Learning Commons Model: This website was compiled by a librarian on sabbatical. It includes individual reports on 19 academic information commons with many photos and an extensive, current bibliography.

Chronicle of Higher Education. Campus Architecture Database. The link to the campus architecture database ( allows one to browse the entire database. Scroll down to the Buildings & Grounds Archives box and use the search box. The quickest way to find specific library information is to search by library name, architect, or institution.

Library Journal, annual issue on library buildings December 15 issue The most recent issue - 2009 - is at Library Journal publishes an annual photo montage with summary data of library buildings constructed during the past year.

User Studies

Updated November, 2018

In addition to local studies, planners may want to consult studies which outline how users will likely use the space, considering the various types of library users as well as the role of technology. These sites are recommended:

ACRL. Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning

Chan, Diana L.H., and Gabrielle K.W. Wong (2013). If You Build it, They Will Come: An Intra-institutional User Engagement Process in the Learning Commons. New Library World, Vol. 114 Issue 1-2: 44-53. doi: 10.1108/03074801311291956

Coleman, Roger, Clarkson, John and Julia Cassim (2016). Design for Inclusivity: A Practical Guide to Accessible, Innovative and User-Centered Design. CRC Press.

Dell’Era, Claudio and Paolo Landoni (2014), Living Lab: A Methodology between User-Centered Design and Participatory Design. Creativity and Innovation Management, 23: 137–154. doi:10.1111/caim.12061

Dempsey, Lorcan (2015). The Library in the Life of the User. OCLC Presentation.

ELI Learning Spaces (e-book, freely available)  This e-book has chapters on many aspects of learning space design, emphasizing learning principles, student needs and behaviors, technology and case studies. See especially Chapters 1-13.

Foster, Nancy Fried, editor. (2014). Participatory Design in Libraries

Foster, Nancy Fried and Susan Gibbons, editors. (2007) Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester. Association of College and Research Libraries

User Studies

Grummon, P.T.H. (2009). Best Practices in Learning Space Design: Engaging Users. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Vol. 32 No. 1.

McGlynn, Megan, Amanda Peters, and Shae Rafferty. (2012) If You Build It, Will they Come? Library Learning Spaces and Technology. EDUCAUSE Review. Oct 31.

Montgomery, Susan E, editor. (2017) Assessing Library Space for Learning. Rowman & Littlefield

OCLC. Perceptions of Libraries: Context and Community. (2010)

Proffitt, Merrilee, Michalko, James and Melissa Renspie (2015). Shaping the Library to the Life of the User: Adapting, Empowering, Partnering, Engaging. OCLC Summary.

Schmidt, Aaron and Amanda Etches (2014). Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library. Chicago: American Library Association.

Searing, Susan E., and Karla Stover Lucht (2006). The Library as Place: The Changing Nature and Enduring Appeal of Library Buildings and Spaces. UI Current LIS Clips: A current awareness service for the library and information community.

Part I, General topics and non-academic libraries. Internet Archive URL:

Part 2, Academic and research libraries. Internet Archive URL: This site includes many summaries and pointers to key articles and documents, with some focusing on users.

Wilson, Chauncey (2014). Interview Techniques for UX Practitioners: A User-Centered Design Method. Elsevier.