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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment

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.

Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment

Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment

updated February 2015

When planning for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) it is important that planners consider the following factors:

  • Extensive consultation with all library staff
  • Input from constituents/users, i.e. focus groups, charrettes or other patron input
  • Consideration given to bringing in a professional interior designer/architect
  • Reusability (value consideration), flexibility (balance between order and chaos), portability (user control) and adaptability (recognition of constant change in the 21st century library)
  • Durability for 24/7 use in public areas. Check express warranties on products being considered
  • Conformance with the library program: How well does the FF&E mesh with the desired project outcomes? The Library program (outcomes) should drive the FF&E, not the other way around.
  • Patron characteristics: Is the space designed to encourage extended usage, or in-and-out? Size of work surfaces, seating type, creature comforts such as lockers and furniture cubbies will influence length of stay.
  • Ergonomic and ADA considerations
  • Security issues juxtaposed with privacy interests. A security based need which calls for open design will influence height of partitioning, design and degree of private study space, and private study area location and layout
  • Consideration of incorporating existing FF&E. Potential for refurbishment
  • Acoustics
  • Appropriate lighting for all spaces including task lighting. Balance of natural and artificial lighting
  • Importance of the “sit test” for seating. Provision of a variety of postures/heights suggestive of differing seating types (lounged, seated, café height, standing height)
  • Technology management: wire management, adequacy to support desired hosting hardware. Powered vs. non powered workstations. Availability of power for patron use. Ability to support user devices brought into the space. Flexibility of power provision (floor grid; raised floor).
  • Sustainability considerations – energy efficiency; Meeting “Design for Environment” guidelines
  • Delineation between “collaborative” versus “individual” user furnishings
  • Efficacy of design: Will the actual use reflect the intended use? Example: A small 4-person table may realistically seat only two.
  • Wayfinding and signage should be thoughtful and intentional

Many of the sites in the Precedents section (above) address library furnishings. Vendors are also available at the American Library Association Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences and are conveniently listed alphabetically and by category in those conference program guides. Additional resources: ALA Library Fact Sheet 11 - Building Libraries and Library Additions: A Selected Annotated Bibliography: