Universal Design for Library Buildings

by Sharon L. Bostick and Olaf Eigenbrodt

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design (UD)[1] refers to design which seeks to make buildings and environments available for use by everyone in society regardless of age, size, ability, disability or need. Accessibility is not an additional component but integral to UD thinking. UD takes a holistic approach, enhancing access for all without lowering standards. Many libraries and educational institutions use a more specific concept, Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Seven Principles of Universal Design

Anne-Marie Womack notes on her blog Writing Rhetorics that there are seven principles of UD: Equitable, Flexibility, Simple and Intuitive, Perception Information, Tolerance for error, Low physical effort, and Size and space.

Principles of universal design
7 Principles of universal design, as quoted by Anne-Marie Womack in her blog Writing Rhetorics

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What about Wiring? How to Avoid Making a Mess in Library Buildings

by Santi Romero

Overview

The fitting out of libraries involves many different actors: planners, librarians, architects, engineers, interior designers and builders. Each person involved has a common goal. Each wants to ensure that the completed building is architecturally interesting, welcoming, aesthetically pleasing and able to provide an excellent library service. However, there is one aspect that is frequently not properly resolved and which tends to get worse over time: the wiring.

This posting addresses the problem of wiring in libraries. There are many devices in today’s libraries which need to be connected to electrical power. Making the appropriate choice and ensuring the most effective layout of electrical equipment, cabling, switches, connecting cords, plugs, power points and panels is vital to achieve effective service delivery. In the first part of this posting, there are photographs showing how the wiring issue is tackled in most libraries. An effective method of planning the wiring project is then presented, recommendations and solutions to wiring problems are outlined and photographs of best practice provided. Continue reading

Transforming Norwegian Public Libraries

by Marit Andersen Somby

Overview

In 2014, amendments to the Public Libraries Act of Norway came into force. The revision included an enhanced role for public libraries:

…to promote the spread of information, education and other cultural activities through active dissemination and by making books and other media available for the free use of all the inhabitants of Norway. Public libraries are to be an independent meeting place and arena for public discussions and debates[1].

Of particular significance is the emphasis on the “active” role of public libraries and the use of the public library as a “meeting place”. What does the new approach mean for libraries? How should public libraries respond to new directions? How are any changes planned and implemented? What consequences are there for the design of “library rooms”? How is the rethinking of the design of physical library space undertaken? This blog posting outlines two projects in Troms in Norway, which have proactively changed the role of the library, the first through examining use of library space and the second through presenting libraries as houses of literature.

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Renewing a heritage library: planning the renovation and extension of the Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg (State and City Library of Augsburg), Germany

by Dorothea Sommer

Overview

The renowned Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg (State and City Library of Augsburg) is housed in a veritable nineteenth-century Palace of Books created in 1892– 1893 by the architects Fritz Steinhäußer and Martin Dülfer. Like many nineteenth century libraries, its viability in the twenty-first century was in doubt as costs of maintenance and renewal escalated and the role of the library was questioned. Successful initiatives have ensured improved prospects and a worthwhile future. Planning is underway for the renovation and extension of the building to ensure the preservation and appropriate presentation of Augsburg’s valuable collections and cultural heritage, and quality service delivery for an important region of Germany.

State and City Library of Augsburg
Front façade of the State and City Library of Augsburg at night. Picture: Eckhart Matthäus

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