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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: 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.


Thompson LIbrary_Ohio StateU

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.

Space Planning

The process of space planning is most effective when the planner(s) have a well-defined comprehension of how the library fits into the university both historically and in the future; how space will meet the physical, social, and cognitive needs of its users and the pedagogical needs of the university; and how to program spaces that create a laboratory for teaching and learning and foster collaboration across the university campus. Planners must strive for nimble building and design programs that anticipate the evolving needs of the academic library community - that is planning for emerging technologies, evolving library collections and delivery systems, potential future expansion, and changing user demographics, etc. As noted, there are many crucial factors to be considered in planning library space:

  • Changing demographic trends (generational shifts, disparate levels of preparedness, commuter vs. residential student users, distance learners, flipped learning practices, etc.)
  • Relationship between the library and the advancement of the mission of the institution
  • Relationship between the library and campus
  • Evolving curricula and pedagogical practices
  • Service delivery models
  • Changing role of the library faculty and staff
  • Understanding the user (academic preparedness, learning preferences, etc.)
  • Expansive and disruptive technologies
  • Standards and guidelines
  • Design for users, collections, and employees
  • Universal Design Practices

The following resources may prove helpful in space planning:

American Library Association. Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space, 3rd Edition. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011.

Figueroa, Miguel. Forecasting the Future of Libraries 2015. American Libraries Magazine, 2015.

Duckett, Kim, Lippincott, Joan, and Vedantham, Anu. Libraries as Enablers of Pedagogical and Curricular Change. Educause Review. Colorado: Educause, 2014.

New Media Consortium.  Horizon Report 2014: Library Edition. Stanford, CA, 2014.

Whole Building Design Guide for Academic Libraries

Learning Spaces Collaboratory. The LSC Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners.Washington DC, 2013.

ACRLog: Association for College and Research Libraries blog for academic library buildings

Designing Better Libraries: DBL blog for academic library design