Stuff On Sunday: Library Architecture and Design

As I was helping my children check out their latest borrowings , the librarian asked me to wait, scuttled out the back and returned to lay this book, Library Architecture + Design by Manuela Roth in my hands. She was certain I would appreciate it, and with my love of books and interest in design and photography she was right. It is rare for public libraries in Australia to be housed in purpose built buildings. Usually they are squeezed into utilitarian council owned properties, state libraries in capital cities being the exception. Architecturally designed libraries are more commonly only found in universities and private schools. My own local library (below) is fairly new, but it wouldn’t win any architecture awards. It is next door to a pub, and takes up just one floor – the two stories above house office space. It looks out of place given it is surrounded by heritage buildings.  Inside is little more than a warehouse style room of fluorescent lighting and grey shelving, with one tiny meeting room and an elevated children’s section. It is not particularly attractive, or warm or inviting. The smaller library branches are primarily housed  in shop fronts.


The blurb for this coffee table book says, “Libraries are no longer simply storage facilities for books. In the last decade they have expanded beyond their physical structures to become multimedia portals, through which entire communities gain access to new methods of research, communication and entertainment. Architects worldwide have responded to this developing need, balancing lively and functional interior spaces and distinctive facades, marking out these buildings as points of access to a modern world, with spaces that continue to promote the reading of books in a calm, focused environment. This volume from the Masterpieces series presents outstanding examples of revolutions in library design and renovation, an architectural challenge to strike the finest balance between functionality and aesthetics.” Below are a few images from the book from the publisher.

A quick browse around the internet shows even more spaces to drool over

Designing Libraries

Brilliantly Bookish

Library Design: Youth Spaces

Library Design on Pintrest


So tell me – what is your local library like?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robin Nolet
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 07:51:22

    I will look for this book! I love libraries. I had a couple of wonderful ones in college at NIU–Northern Illinois University (a classic Gothic feel with deep stacks that certainly were haunted and green shades on lamps lined up down long wooden tables) and the DU–University of Denver (modern, glass, weird little round orange cubicles to hide in with contraband sodas, and term papers). NIU has sadly built a brand new, non-haunted library, and ironically, my son is attending DU for only two years and those are the two years during which the entire library will get a remodel. We will both have to go see it when it’s done!



  2. Judith
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 21:59:56

    Ooh, there are some beautiful libraries around! Ours is a rather square building, from the 1970s. It has an open area downstairs, with a coffee/magazine corner and a children’s corner. Upstairs are the non-fiction books, this section is smaller and you can look out over the downstairs form it.

    It’s dated, but a friendly place to be.



  3. notesoflifeuk
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 04:53:44

    Our local library is around 20 years old, the previous one (built in the same spot) was burnt down when I was a kid. While they were re-building the library, a temporary library was set-up in the old fire station. Our currently library isn’t impressive, but it looks OK and was purpose built.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jun 25, 2012 @ 11:38:07

      When I was a kid our library was a mobile one – a bus visited fortnightly, stopping right outside my door!



  4. Jo
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 17:18:51

    This sounds really interesting. During my brief stay in Australia, I found one of the nearest library branches was in a mall/shopping center. And it had hardly any seating. Both details were incredibly different from my experience.

    The library I work in currently is under construction, so it’s noisy and chaotic for now. I doubt it’ll be some great architectural place once the renovations are over, but I’m hopeful about the end product.



  5. heather
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 21:49:13

    The main branch of our library is 3 stories with most of the nonfiction in the basement, children’s and fiction on the main floor, and YA and humanities (religion, self-help, and arts nonfiction) on the top floor. There is also a shop, a restaurant, meeting rooms, and a geneology room. I haven’t been through all the meeting spaces since we just moved here and it is huge so there may be things I don’t even know about yet!



  6. Trackback: Stuff On Sunday: Library Architecture and Design « book'd out | Library learning spaces |
  7. christieadams23
    Jun 30, 2012 @ 22:41:36

    I want this book! I adore libraries and need to visit more. I am actually going to add libraries on my holiday lists alongside museums and galleries. Thanks for the inspiration.



  8. Trackback: Six Degrees of Separation: How To Do Nothing to Rohan’s Echo | book'd out

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