5.3 Space

The next biggest capacity challenge faced by many libraries is that of space. Most libraries, even large libraries, find that they often do not have the physical capacity to implement all of the programs and activities that they would like. While space can be a challenge, the capacity of your library can be augmented using community strengths and partnerships. The first step is gaining in-depth knowledge of your library’s space.

Assessing Space Capacity Holistically

There are a variety of ways to assess the space capacity of your library. While the most common is to think of your spaces by their square footage, or by their max occupancy numbers, there are other factors that are often not thought about. Do you have bookshelves that can be moved easily in that space? Are the tables on wheels, or otherwise easily mobile? Can the chairs in an area stack?

Here is a quick and easy checklist you can follow when evaluating your library’s spaces:

  1. What is the square footage?
  2. Is the furniture (bookshelves, tables, chairs) easily mobile or stackable?
  3. How many different configurations can the room be organized in? Is one of those configurations more space efficient?
  4. Is this space accessible to everyone?

Thinking Outside the Box

Once you have a clear understanding of the spaces in your library, there are a variety of options for augmenting your library’s space capacity using community assets. These can include using outside community spaces for library programs and outreach, or having volunteers help you move heavy bookshelves or tables to reconfigure library spaces.

Library Journal has also published tips on how to optimize library interiors, including:

  1. See with your customer’s eyes
  2. Remove barriers
  3. Use less displays
  4. Declutter the space