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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: Space Planning

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.

Space and Planning

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:

ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award

LLAMA ALA/AIA Library Building Awards


Academic Library Spaces  

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

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

Designing Better Libraries: DBL blog for academic library design

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

Freeman, Geoffrey T., and Council on Library and Information Resources. Library As Place : Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space.Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2005. Print. Perspectives on the evolving library.  

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

Kroski, E. (Ed.). (2017). The Makerspace librarian's sourcebook. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

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

Library Leadership Administration & Management Association (Producer). (2018). Evolution of Library Interiors: How Design Supports the Expanding Role of Libraries [Video webinar], Retrieved from

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

Ojala, M. (2008). "Libraries as Place and Space: An IFLA Satellite Conference." Information Today, vol. 26, no. 9, 34-35. Retrieved from

Redesigning the College Library Building, 2014 Edition (2013).  New York: Primary Research Group.

Schlipf, F. & Moorman, J. (2018).  The Practical Handbook of Library Architecture: Creating Building Spaces that Work. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Sternberg, Esther M.  Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being.  Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009. Print.   

Whole Building Design Guide for Academic Libraries