Library Furniture and Fittings

Library Furniture and Fittings: The furniture and fittings can be made of metal, wood or plastic. The furniture and fittings should also be modular. This would be the case for tables, chairs, book racks, book trolleys, doors, windows, etc.

a) Book Racks: For normal shelving in general libraries, the standard racks or shelves made of either seasoned teak or sheesham wood can prove useful and functional. Book racks are used to store books, bound volumes of periodicals, reports and such other kinds of materials. Each individual rack is usually 180 cm wide, 195/225 cm high and 25/50 cm deep depending on whether it is a single-sided or double sided. The number of shelves in a rack is usually 5-6 depending on the high of the rack. A number of racks can be joined together to make one row. In general, the height of the unit book rack should be such that a person of normal height should be able to pick up books from top-most shelf. The popular kinds of stacks are:

i) Fixed Shelves with Double Row: They are normal fixed shelves where material can be arranged in double rows.

ii) Hinged Stacks: Here two shelves are joined together with hinges on one side and one shelf fixed while the other is mounted in front of the hinges.

iii) Rolling Stacks: These are metal stack units mounted on ball bearing wheel placed side by side.

iv) Compact Storage: This system consists of units of three stacks, the centre row of fixed double-sided stacks at each side. This helps in increasing the capacity of the storage space.

v) Multitier Stacks: This kind of stacking consists of stacks from the floor to the roof and it has become quite popular in very large libraries.

b) Periodical Display Rack: Double sided periodical racks are not recommended since the unit becomes too bulky. It is better to place two single sided racks back to back, if necessary. The following types of periodical display racks are generally available in the market.

i) Step or Gallery Type: In this type the periodicals are displayed stepwise, each step being 5 cm deep and 15cm high. Length of the rack is generally 90cm. There may be 4-5 steps and on each step 4-5 journals can be displayed and on a single sided rack 20-25 journals can be displayed.

ii) Pigeon Hole Type: This type of rack has two parts, one being a cupboard in the bottom and other pigeon holes at the top. The usual height and width are 7.5 feet by 6 feet. The depth is about one foot in the pigeon hole and about 1.5 feet in the lower cupboard portion. The cupboard portion is for storing the back volumes of the periodicals and the pigeons holes hold about 36 current periodicals.

iii) Inclined Type: This type of display rack is an improvement over the earlier pigeon hole type of rack. This is a box type rack with horizontal shelves, each covered with wooden planks with an inclination to the shelf plank. The shelves can be portioned into pigeon holes, each hole being provided with a wooden support for the periodicals. The inclined plank provides a way of displaying periodicals with the back issues in the space behind the inclined plank. Display space for 25-30 periodicals can be provided in one rack.

c) Catalogue Cabinet: The catalogue cabinet is a unit of drawers full of cards specially designed to hold library cards (5 x 3) and equipped with a metal holding rod. These units are available in a wide range of sizes starting from four drawers to about sixty drawers. For convenience and ease of consultation, the trays of drawers are placed on stands of eye level. Each tray can hold about 1,000 thick cards.

d) Charging Desk / Issue Counter: In most of the libraries the charging desk is specially designed to serve special need of the library, and it is not usually acquired from the open market that has predefined shape and size. The issue counter is usually designed for two people to work simultaneously. The height of the counter should be 4-5 foot and should have sufficient drawer space to accommodate all the issued documents records. The counter should also have sufficient shelving space for placing the books which are returned by the users. The common type of design used for issue counter is circular, L-shaped, rectangular, and U-shaped.

e) Computer Table / Reading table: Proper computer tables with drawers are required for the OPAC terminal, digital library section and such other. Some common type tables are also required for the technical staff of the library and for the readers to use as reading table in the reading room. The tables to be used in the reading room are large in size and without any drawers.

f) Chairs: The chairs are required for OPAC terminal, digital library section, technical staff and for the readers to use in the reading room.

g) Book Ends or Book Supports: These should be provided in large numbers. At least two book supports are required for one plank so that the books are made to stand erect.

h) Book-lifts and Trolleys: If the book stacks are spread over many floors, it is desirable that book lifts or dumb elevators, as these are called, should be provided. Similarly, to carry books from one end to the other end of each floor, there should be a book trolley so that the time and energy of the staff can be saved.

i) Record Keeping Equipment: In a modern library, most of the record keeping equipment is replaced by computerized record keeping databases. The record keeping equipment includes loan register, periodical record register, accession register, gate register, membership register and such others.

j) Filing Cabinets: There should be filing cabinets for correspondences, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, patents, standards, and other types of materials with odd sizes. For filing of correspondences, vertical filing cabinets with drawers that can be pulled out can be used. Pamphlet boxes of various kinds are also available in the market for storing pamphlets, leaf-lets, standards and patents.

k) Photocopiers / Printer: In the libraries for various activities there will always be the need of multiple copies of a single document. The photocopiers will also be needed when readers of the library want to make Xerox copies of a chapter of a book or for such other activities. Several leading companies are manufacturing photocopiers with several variations like coloured copies, size enlargement or reduction and several copies at a time. Depending on the requirements of an individual library and availability of funds, suitable copier as per requirement can be purchased. In modern day libraries computer printer should also be procured.

l) Typewriters / Computers: Typewriters are gradually replaced by computers in most of the libraries. So, it’s better to go for computer than typewriters. In an automated library bar-coding printer, bar-coding reader and such others should also be procured.

m) Miscellaneous Items: It will include stool or step ladder for reaching the roof for cleaning, for users in stack room for picking books from upper shelves, vacuum cleaners, air-conditioners, binding equipment, projectors, etc. Some other library furniture may include notice board, newspaper stand with sloping top, property counter or rack for keeping the users belongings.

Let Us Sum Up: 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 inclusion of the librarian in the library building committee is a crucial factor. He is the best person for planning and equipping the library and determines the exact functional relationship between the various parts of the structure. He 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 note would propose a plan keeping in view the ways in which the users would use a library. He 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.

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