Library Building

1. Introduction: Library is a trinity consisting of reading materials of various kinds, the library users of various types and a good number of professional staff. Library building is a warehouse of books, a workshop for the reader, and business-home for the staff. The building should be designed to supply adequate and efficient accommodations of materials, readers, and staff.

The construction of a library building is of first and foremost step for planning a library or information centre as it cannot exist without a proper building.  The library building should be well planned. The exterior should be inviting and the interior should be attractive. The building should be functional and at the same time aesthetic. It should be functional one providing enough space for various purposes to meet the requirements. The library building also should be modular and should have the provision of future growth.


2. Planning a Library Building: Plan is regarded as a projected course of action or the course of action to be done in near future. According to Koont’z and O’Donnell, “planning is deciding in advance what to do? How to do? When to do? and who is to do it?”. After that planning is a continuous process requiring constant reappraisal. It is not an end in itself, but a means to an agreed aim and objective. It involves selecting from alternative future course of actions for the organization as a whole and for each of its department or section. It might be evaluated and revised in the light of developing situation, that is to say, a plan is always being brought up-to-date throughout the long or medium term in which it is based.

The planning for a library and information science centres arises out of a need. A library operates in a complex, dynamic, ever-changing and uncertain environment and as a social organization it has to take care of increasing government regulation, union activities and increasing community interest. It is always a growing organization and, with passage of time, some of the libraries grow into large and complex organizations. In view of the above, sound planning is highly essential for a library. It is through planning that a manger can deal with a potential problem before it can take an ugly shape.

The planning of the building of library and information centre can have the following steps-

a) Formation of a Committee: A planning committee should be formed in the first step. The head of the parent institution, librarian, architect, library consultant, interior designer and, if possible, representative from the user community should also be included.

Inclusion of the a librarian should be treated as one of the most important components in planning a library and information science centre because he / she is the best person for planning and equipping the library. She/He himself/herself should also be very conscious about his/her responsibility in planning the library and information science centre. He/She should work closely with the building committee. He/She must identify each and every factor with reference to which planning has to be made. The librarian should also consult other experienced librarians if there is any confusion as mistakes made at this stage could prove to be extremely serious.

b) Studying the Library Environment: The planning committee should be accustomed to the library. To do so, they should read the existing literature on planning a library and information centre, visit some other library and information centre, and so on to assess the existing situation. They should also try to understand the present strength and weakness of the library in the light of where it stands.

c) Studying the Functionality of the Parent Organization: The committee should study the functionality of the parent organization, its resources and visualize its future direction and be aware about the changes and the consequent effect thereof.

The objective should be established for the entire library and then for each subordinate unit i.e. department or section of a library or information centres then the subordinate parts of the department or section and so on. Major department objectives in turn control the objectives of the subordinate departments and so on down the line. The objectives are divided and sub divided into successively smaller components to arrive at each department or section of the library to meet the definite set of goals for the short as well as long period.

A formal structure of authority should be established that is well defined and that can co-ordinate towards the attainment of the objectives. Proper job analysis and assignment of job should be planned in such a manner that no overlapping in duties occur. This can be achieved by establishing various departments.

d) Identifying Information Need of the Users: Libraries and information centers are highly user oriented and so it should take care of the exact needs of the user. The experienced planner immediately asks for the evidence of the extent and the nature of demand for the libraries and information centre, going to be planned. Needs of the user may be ascertained by questioning or by carrying out potential user studies. The nature and extent of local demand will have to be checked by consultation, surveys and controlled test so that all fits to the need.

e) Identifying Facilities in the Library Building:  The building should be well equipped and must be free from dust, dirt, cobwebs and also should be water proof, theft proof and equipped with noise prevention measures, the provision of drinking water, heating and cooling machine (air conditioned), proper lighting, staircase, lift, etc..

f) Establishment of Plan Premises or Forecasting: Forecasting is estimating or predicting the future internal and external environment of the library and information centre. Premises refer to planning assumptions concerning the expected internal or external environment under which the plan will operate. Since planning is concerned with the objective to be attained in the future and the provision of the means for their attainment, it is imperative that various dimensions of the future are explored and estimated.

g) Selecting Course of Action: The planners should search for and examine and evaluate the alternative course of action by weighing them in the light of various factors involved i.e cost, time, materials, manpower, equipment, etc. The use of operation research and mathematical and computing techniques may be helpful in this regard. Out of the alternatives, a suitable course of action should be selected.

h) Choice of the Site: Objectives of the library is the main factors on which the planning of a modern library depends. Depending upon the objectives, it may be a public, special or academic library. Choice of the site should be the one conveniently accessible to the community to be served taking into consideration of the future expansion.

i) Public Library: For public library, the site should be centrally located where everybody finds it convenient. This should be the place where normally public visit more often than any other place. Therefore, a place where they go for shopping might be found suitable.

ii) University Library: The site should be centrally located within the campus.

iii) College and School Library: The location of the library does not matter very much if the distances are small, but if possible the library should be at the entrance path or centrally located.

iv) Special Library: Library site in case of special library should be near the factory building or the factory canteen or staff canteen. The ground floor might be preferred for the library.

i) Financial and Cost Consideration: Without a proper source of finance a building of an information centre cannot be erected. The building should be visualized based on the present and future source of funds.


3. Basic Principles of Library Building Design: Some of the basic principles of library building design are mentioned below-

a) Functional Design: A library building should have functional design rather than a monumental one. There should be provision for documents, users, staff, and service areas.  There should be areas for senior professional’s rooms, library staff, seminar room, binding section, reprographic section, digital library section with additional areas for acquisition section, technical section, reference section, reading room, room for stack book, circulation section, etc.

b) Modular Design: In a modular building, the only fixed commitments will be column, stairways, elevators, toilets, etc. The outside walls along with columns instead of interior load-bearing walls will provide the vertical support. Beyond the basic elements, everything that goes into the building should be movable or subject to re-arrangement, removal with a minimum of time, effort and expense based on taste of time or ever-changing need of the library. The dimensions of the building should be in multiples or submultiples of some module/column. The surrounding walls as well as the vertical column should be capable to hold anywhere at any time any reasonable load of books, readers or equipment and any combination or concentration of these. Typically the whole structure including the lighting should permit any combination of activities re-arrangements of activities anywhere and at any time. The modular system will lead to the flexibility.

c) Flexible: There should be the means of interchangeability of all major stack areas, service areas, reading room, and staff areas. The whole design should be such that if any change in library function takes place in future it will be possible to adjust the layout without carrying out major structural operations. There should be no interior load bearing walls but the building should be able to bear the stack load anywhere.

d) Open Access / Close Access: The availability of the number of library staff, the user demand and the type of collection are the deciding factors for a library to go for open access or closed access system. In a closed access library, the users are prohibited to enter the library, they should write their demands in some slips. The building design for open access is also considered useful for closed access system. However, vice versa is not true. But, in both the closed and the open access systems, library property counter and some other things are a must, because the users are free to enter the reading room and the periodical section in both the cases. Both the systems require that the library building should have a single entrance and one exit point for keeping a proper control on incoming and outgoing users. The whole building should be accessible from the entrance to different parts of the building by means of simple and easy to understand plan requiring only a few directions or guides. Doors and windows should be protected by means of wire fabric to avoid any loss of books.

e) Scope for Future Growth: A library building should be planned for at least next 20 years, keeping in view the rate of collection development, number of readers, technology enhancements, etc. The building should be extendable to allow for future growth with minimum of disruption. There should also be adequate provision for future expansion, both horizontally and vertically.

f) Air-conditioning, Lighting and Noise: Uniform standards of lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, noise prevention, communications, fumigation and flooring are necessary to meet the criteria of interchangeability. The natural light should come inside the whole building throughout the day time. Outside or background noises generally cannot be controlled except by double glazing which involves air conditioning. The inside noise of human voice, equipment and mechanical device, impact of footsteps, banging of doors should be reduced by using insulating materials and devices, use of acoustical material for walls and ceilings in corridors, reading rooms and work rooms. Use of proper floor coverings is also essential.

g) Economic: The design should be such that the operation of the library can be carried out with the minimum of staff and finance. The windows should be covered with net.

h) Secure: The building should be free from dust, dirt, and cobwebs. To deal with other vermin, the best remedy would be to have a rat proof building. The water may not enter the stack room either through ventilators and windows or due to leakage of roof. The stacking material should be fire proof. Sufficient number of fire extinguishers and fire buckets should be fixed at various strategic places in the building. The library building should also be designed to guard against some detrimental habits of the readers, visitors and outsiders.

4. Library Building Standards: It is desirable that a library should use standard specification. In this connection the following standards will be found useful:

a) Library Committee (1957): The UGC programme (Commission) appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan to advice on a wide range of subjects including the standards and principles for the designing of library building, fitting and furniture, administration of university libraries, training of librarianship, etc. The report of this committee was published by the UGC in the year 1959 under the title "Development of University & College Libraries".

b) IS 1553 (1960): Indian Standards Institute which is now known as Bureau of Indian Standards, appointed Dr. S. R. Ranganathan as the Chairman of its first Documentation Sectional Committee, which fixed (accorded) priority to the areas of library buildings, furniture’s and fittings. The Committee finalized its draft for Standards regarding Buildings, Furniture’s and Fittings, and as a result IS: 1553 – 1960 Code of practice relating to Primary elements in the design of library building came into existence. The IS 1553-1960 prescribed the average size of different types of libraries, the different kinds of rooms required, etc.

c) IS 8338 (1976): IS 8338 (1976) Recommendations Relating to Primary Elements in the Design of School Library Buildings was adopted by the Indian Standards Institution on 22nd December, 1976, after the draft finalized by the Library Buildings, Fittings and Furniture Sectional Committee had been approved by the Civil Engineering Division Council.

d) IS 1553 (1989) (Reafirmed 2005): Indian Standard: The “Design of Library Buildings -Recommendations Relating to its Primary Elements” covers the recommendations relating to primary elements in the design of library buildings. This standard does not provide recommendations for the types of libraries for special classes of users, such as, library for the blind, field library (military), etc, for which requirements will-have to be separately worked out. Some of its recommendations are-

i) Adequate separation (about10m) should preferably be available between the building and the other neighbouring buildings.

ii) The site shall abut on a road of not less than 12m width. One end of the road shall join another road of the same width and the road shall not have a dead end.

iii) Longitudinal gangway not less than 1m, cross gangway not less than 1.35m, and end ‘gangway (between the end wall and nearest row of racks / reading table) not less than 1.325 m.

iv) The average area per reader in the reading room should be 2.33 m2

e) ISO/TR 11219:2012: ISO/TR 11219:2012 specifies data for the planning of library buildings. It also provides guidance on the selection of technical building equipment for the different functional areas of libraries. ISO/TR 11219:2012 is applicable to all types of libraries in all countries, but especially to academic and public libraries.

According to Keyes D. Metcalf, Planning academic and research library buildings, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1965, P. 316 space for stairways, corridors, entrances, lobbies, toilet facilities, walls, columns, vertical communication and transportation, etc. would consists of 30 percent to one-third of area for documents, readers, and service to readers and staff.

            Indian Standard Recommendations relating to primary elements in the design of library building (first revision), Delhi, Indian Standards Institution, 1977 recommend the following

a) Documents: 150 volumes per square metre;

b) Library Staff

            i) Librarian and deputy librarian=30 m2

            ii) Classifier, cataloguer, accession librarian and maintenance librarian= 9 m2

            iii) Administrative and professional staff not at service points = 5 m2

c) Users: Average area per reader in the reading room=2.33 m2

d) Services: Area required for services to users can be calculated on the basis of local requirements;


5. Recommended Library Standard from Other Bodies: All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India (MCI), Dental Council of India (DCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), Indian Nursing Council (INC), Veterinary Council of India and National Council for Teacher Education also have some recommendation regarding library building and space. These recommendations used to change time to time.

            All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have the specification for the library in its Approval Process Handbook.  According to AICTE, Institutes offering Programmes in Management and MCA should have a library with 100 sq. m. reading room with the seating capacity of 15% of total students (maximum 150). Institutes offering Degree / Diploma programmes in Applied Arts & Crafts, Hotel Management & Catering Technology; Architecture / Town Planning Institute; Pharmacy College offering Degree / Diploma should have 150 sq. m reading room with the seating capacity of 15% of total students (maximum 150).    Polytechnic College offering Diploma should have 300 sq. m. reading room with the seating capacity of 15% of total students (maximum 150). Engineering College offering Degree should have a 400 sq. m. reading room with the seating capacity of 15% of total students (maximum 150).

            The Medical Council of India (MCI) have some mandatory requirements for the library of a medical college as per Amendment Notification dated 8th July 2009 of Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956). According to it, there shall be an air-conditioned Central Library (2,400 Sq.m) with seating arrangement for at least 300 students for reading and having good lighting and ventilation and space for stacking and display of books and journals. There shall be minimum one room for 150 students inside and one room for 150 students outside.

The Dental Council of India (DCI) insisted the requirements of the library based on the number of admissions to first year BDS. If the intake is 50, the requirements are to have a library building with 4500 sq. ft. with reading room to accommodate 50% of total student’s strength. If the intake is 100, the requirements would of 8000 sq. ft. library building with reading room to accommodate 50% of total student’s strength.

            The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) recommended a library with minimum of 150 sq. mts.

            The Indian Nursing Council (INC) guidelines and minimum requirements to establish a new College of Nursing to offer B.Sc. (Nursing) insists to have a separate library for the college with a minimum of 2400 sq. ft.

            The Veterinary Council of India - Minimum Standards of Veterinary Education- Degree Course (B.V.Sc. & AH.) Regulations, 2008 prescribes to have a library with reading room and arrangement for staff and students with adequate seating accommodation.

            The norms and standards prescribed by the National Council for Teacher Education to the colleges offering B.Ed. programme is to have a library-cum-reading room with seating capacity for at least fifty percent of the students.


6. Conclusion: Planning the library building is a team project and not exclusively the job of an architect. The basic aim of the design of a library building should be to achieve flexibility using modular system. In addition, open access and provision of future growth is an important consideration. The design should be functional rather than a monumental consisting of a rectangular area having pillars or modules.

The basic aim of the design of a library building should be to achieve flexibility by using the modular system. The library building has to demonstrate a remarkable ability to grow, to adapt to changing conditions to meet new demands and to implement new technologies. If these aspects are taken care of then one need not to give much weightage to the predictions made about their future expansion and existence. The space estimates for the library staff, documents, services, users and for other purposes i.e corridors, entrances, lobbies, toilet, etc. should also be prepared.

            The inclusion of the librarian in the library building committee is a crucial factor. He/She is the best person for planning and equipping the library and determines the exact functional relationship between the various parts of the structure. He/She will prepare a note on library building programme explaining the requirements of the library to the architect, management, etc. The architect on the basis of his/her note would propose a plan keeping in view the ways in which the users would use a library. He/she would be able to suggest the designing of a functional and attractive building within the budget allocated for the purpose. The decision of the library building committee must be finally approved by the competent authority.

How to Cite this Article?

APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.

Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.

MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.