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

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.

User Studies

Updated Jul 2022

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 articles and websites are recommended:

ACRL. Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning

Archambault, Susan and Alexander Justice (2017). Student Use of the Information Commons: An Exploration through Mixed Methods. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, Vol. 12 Issue 4: 13-40. http://

Bell, Scott (2022). Moving to Mobile: Space as a Service in the Academic Library. EDUCAUSE Review.

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.

Dahlgren, Anders C. and Charles Forrest (2022). Eye-Popping, Show-Stopping Libraries: Trends and Insights from a Half-Century of the AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. Rowan & Littlefield.

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

Gisolfi, Peter (2018). Collaborative Library Design: From Planning to Impact. Chicago: ALA Editions. 

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

Mehta, Priya and Andew Cox (2019). At Home in the Academic Library? A Study of Student Feelings of Homeness. New Review of Academic Librarianship. DOI: http://10.1080/13614533.2018.1547774

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

Primary Research Group. (2022). Survey of American College Students 2022, Use of Personal Study Rooms in the Academic Library

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.

Scoulas, Jung Mi and Sandra L. De Groote (2022). Impact of Undergraduate Students' Library use on Their Learning Beyond GPA: Mixed-Methods Approach. College & Research Libraries, Vol. 83 Issue 3. doi:

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.