Better by Design: An Introduction to Planning and Designing a New Library Building

Mike Freeman (West Midlands CILIP)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




Freeman, M. (2011), "Better by Design: An Introduction to Planning and Designing a New Library Building", New Library World, Vol. 112 No. 9/10, pp. 471-471.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The author has produced a timely and well‐written introduction to the fascinating and complicated area of planning and designing a library. Using the invaluable experience he gained as Principal Project Officer of the exciting new Library of Birmingham, he has written a clear, comprehensive and helpful guide for librarians involved in a new library building project. The author makes the valid point – often forgotten by clients – that a new library can take as much as five years to come to fruition and in that time things may well have changed, thus “future thinking” is very important. The strong impact of ICT upon libraries is having far reaching effects and, increasingly, libraries are perceived as major community and educational resources and, often, as items of great cultural importance and architectural beauty and significance. One only has to view the striking central public libraries of Amsterdam, San Francisco and Montreal to understand how knowledge and information can be reified and become potent and moving symbols and architectural masterpieces.

The author logically and clearly takes the prospective client through the many technical and complicated stages of planning and design for a new library. Areas such as forming a Business Plan, project management and project teams choosing an architect, design competitions are all well covered. The all‐important factors surrounding location and access are dealt with competently as is the area of community and partner involvement. To quote the author, “the physical library is undergoing a major transformation from collection‐centres to user‐focussed space”, and this shift and expansion is fuelled by onrushing demographic, societal and information technology developments. This is not the Death of the Library but a Renaissance for Libraries, and this handy volume gives librarians pause for thought.

As usual with Facet Publishing, this is an excellent, readable production with good clear photographs and layout, complete with a lucid glossary and several good indexes.

Related articles