Musings on School Library Design

Library: Otto Middle School
Population: 1200 students

Library design seems like it would be a fun thing to do given enough time and money. We read an article in which a librarian is working on a library redesign (Foote, 2019). To gather data and ideas, her Library Advisory Committee visited other libraries with a rubric in hand.   The rubric can be found here: 

They looked at three main areas: student engagement, the facility, and innovation. 

5 Main Factors of Library Design

  1. Flexibility
  2. Engagement
  3. User-Friendliness/ Accessibility
  4. Comfort
  5. Organization

This list is not all-encompassing but it highlights some important aspects. 


Cellular Modular Furniture
Henry G. Izatt Middle School Library & Learning Commons

Furniture can make a big difference in the flexibility of the library area. Seating like this can easily be moved around close for small group discussions. Or it can be spread out around the library for solitary activities. The Tetris like design of this furniture keeps the area feeling fun and inviting for students.


Learning Commons spaces
Grapevine Middle School

I love the whimsy of these bookcases at Grapevine Middle School. It is visually appealing because it is unexpected to see curved bookcases. I don’t know much about Feng Shui but one of the principles is that you don’t want someone to come in your home and have a straight path to another exit. You want guest to come in, sit, and stay awhile. Bookcases like this would encourage patrons to wander through the shelves in an unhurried way. They would subconsciously feel like taking their time to peruse the shelves for a good book.


Recently the librarian at Otto allowed me to go through the non-fiction section and label some popular topics. We didn’t change any Dewey numbers or reorganize. We simply labeled where these categories fell in the Dewey system. This was an extremely simple redesign that will increase the user friendliness of our library without drastic changes to the organization.


Have you ever noticed that fast food places have no cushion on their seats. This is not for easy cleaning it is so that you can’t sit and stay a long time. They purposely make the seats uncomfortable to keep people moving in an out of the area.

Libraries want people to sit and stay and feel comfortable in the environment. An empty library is a lonely one. Walking in and seeing people sitting and reading or working in groups on a project or activity together will immediately put people at ease.


In one of the articles in our readings this week, we read about how libraries can be organized like bookstores to create little alcoves for a little privacy (Palin, 2014). He was not talking about a total reorganization away from the DDC system, more so the arrangement of the bookcases to create these alcoves of quiet areas. This idea appeals to me. Right now our bookcases are in two sections, I would love to rearrange our Fiction section to create one or more nooks for reading. The link below contains a project I did last semester on the redesign of our library.


Foote, C. (2019). Future-ready library spaces. Knowledge Quest, 47(3), 8.  

Grapevine Middle School. (2017). [Image] Retrieved from

Ilideoi. (2019). [image] Retrieved from

Palin, R. (2014). Looking for Peace and Quiet. Knowledge Quest, 42(4), 16-21.


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