The interior design of libraries can either help to position them as a valuable community or school resource for everyone to enjoy, or leave them looking uninspiring and neglected. We're sharing five examples of stand-out library designs, as well as three design elements that are essential for creating a successful and much-loved library facility.
3 Essential Design Elements for Libraries
“Though the days of ‘silence in the library’ are long behind us, balancing social, interactive spaces with the need for quiet study remains a challenge.” - Designing Libraries & Learning Centres for Good Acoustics
Managing noise levels within the library is an important design challenge, as school and community libraries are used in many different ways. You want to create a space that can be used for quiet, individual reading and study, but at the same time be used by groups without disrupting everyone else in the library.
A well-lit, bright library will be altogether more appealing than a dimly-lit space. A bright library space will be more accessible for everyone using it, making it easier for people to browse the book collections, as well as reducing eye strain while reading or using computers.
Much like light, color helps to make a space more appealing, and so more likely to be used. Your use of color is particularly important in spaces that need to appeal to children - such as school libraries or the children's section in the community library. Bright colors add a sense of fun to a place that can otherwise seem quiet, imposing and uninspiring.
5 Inspiring Examples of Beautiful Library Design
Bothell Library, Bothell, Washington, USA
Bothell Library's choice of flooring helps to create a cohesive color scheme throughout the space, which is reflected in their choice of paint color. The use of complementary but different carpet collections is a clever design tweak to distinguish between different areas in the library, setting the children's section apart from the adult's.
Vashon Library, Vashon Island, Washington, USA
Vashon Library maximizes the impact of its mostly-glass exterior. Huge windows are broken up with wood beams, creating a stunning visual first impression, and a library space that is bright and welcoming. It makes the most of high levels of natural light, which has been proven to offer many health benefits to building users.
Cornelius Innovation Lab at Cornelius Elementary School, North Carolina, USA
The Innovation Lab at Cornelius Elementary School is a school library that offers a variety of learning spaces outside of the classroom. One of its other key strengths is how it's furnished, with a range of different seating and study areas to enable groups or individual students to use the space at the same time. The bright colors on the walls, complemented by the furniture and the carpet will be particularly attractive to young students, as will the murals on the walls.
James Hunt Library at NCSU Centennial Campus, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
This university library dwarfs the others we've highlighted here. Its size certainly helps create an inspiring visual first impression, but there are other design elements that help it look the part: a strong color scheme carried by both the modular carpet tiles and the furniture; a range of seating options; and using statement bookcases in eye-catching curves. Like Vashon, it boasts a huge glass wall, so the library is flooded with natural light.
Arabian Library, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Arabian Library is almost the direct opposite of the James Hunt Library. By combining a muted color palette with low-hanging artificial light, this library creates a cosy, inviting ambience. While it flies in the face of two of the best practices listed above, Arabian Library shows that sometimes taking the different approach to your library design can work wonders.