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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: Standards and Guidelines

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

Updated March 2021

Standards and Guidelines

Imperial Beach Library (Creative Commons)


ACRL and LLAMA receive many inquiries about numeric standards for academic library buildings. While there are no specific national quantitative standards, there are a myriad of standards and guidelines, as well as “statements”, “rules” and “criteria,” that are important documents to consider when remodeling, renovating or building a library building. The American Library Association keeps a current, comprehensive list of these standards and documents. The list can be accessed at:

While reviewing this list to find the specific standards and guidelines pertinent to your project, here are a few simple questions that warrant your consideration:

  1. Does the library provide well-planned, secure, and sufficient space to meet the perceived needs of staff and users?
  2. Are building mechanical systems properly designed and maintained to control temperature and humidity at recommended levels?
  3. What are the perceptions of users regarding the provision of conducive study spaces, including a sufficient number of seats and varied types of seating?
  4. Is there enough space for current library collections and future growth of print resources?
  5. Does the staff have sufficient workspace, and is it configured to promote efficient operations for current and future needs?
  6. Does the library's signage facilitate use and navigation of the facilities?
  7. Does the library provide ergonomic workstations for its users and staff?
  8. Are electrical and network wiring sufficient to meet the needs associated with current and future electronic access?
  9. Does the library meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  10. Are facilities provided to distance learners fully considered?