Library Furniture and Fittings

1. Introduction: Library furniture means movable objects made up of wood, metal or plastic or a combination of them that make the library building suitable for carrying out different operations. The library furniture includes movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools and sofas), to hold library item (e.g., book rack, periodical rack, computer table) and so on.


2. Type of Library Furniture: The furniture and fittings can be made of metal, wood or plastic. The furniture should be so provided as to give comfort to the readers and to make use of the resources of the library as conveniently as possible. The furniture and fittings should also be modular. This would be the case for tables, chairs, book racks, book trolleys, doors, windows, etc.  The following types of furniture are generally required for a library.

a) Book Rack: Book rack for holding books. Book racks in which books are kept should not be high and books on the top shelves should be easily reachable. Book racks are used to store books, bound volumes of periodicals, reports and such other kinds of materials. Book rack / stack are required for reading room, staff’s room, seminar and meeting hall, for non-book materials and so on. While selecting book rack / stack for any kind of library, the main consideration should be to ensure maximum space utilization, user convenience and easy movement with the stack room. 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.

b) Periodical Display Rack: Periodical display rack or stand is used for displaying periodical for example magazines, journals, etc. 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.

c) 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 counter should also have sufficient shelving space for placing the books which are returned by the users.

d) Book Display Stand: One or two display stand for new arrival book is a good idea for a modern library.

e) Reading Table: The tables to be used in the reading room are large in size and without any drawers. If a library has children corner or children user, then there should be a provision for children reading table.

f) General Table: Some general or common type tables are also required for the technical staff of the library. In case of public library there should be separate table for the adult and children reader.

g) Computer Table: Proper computer tables with drawers are required for the OPAC terminal, digital library section and staff computer and such other.

h) Chairs: The chairs are required for reception counter / lounge (coupe chair), technical staff, reading room (corfu chair for children and adult), digital library section and OPAC terminal.

i) Newspaper Stand: A few newspaper stand with sloping top should be purchased to give the provision to the reader to read the newspaper conveniently.

j) Book Ends or Book Supports: At least two book supports are required for one plank so that the books are made to stand erect.

k) Notice Board: A few notice board of varying size will be needed to use in different places of the library building for example at the entrance, at the issue / return counter and so on.

l) Book-lifts: 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.

m) Book Trolley / Dolly: 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.

n) Stool / Step Ladder: Stool refers to a type of seat without back or arm rests. A few stools are required for the under-sized reader who cannot reach to the top of the book rack /stack. Stool or step ladder are also required for reaching the roof for cleaning, for users in stack room for picking books from upper shelves and so on.

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

p) 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.

q) Property Counter: In case of open access library, property counter or rack for keeping the users belongings will form an important part of library furniture and fittings.

3. Standards for Furniture and Fittings: The Indian Statistical Institution, Delhi has laid down a standard for wooden rack vide IS: 1829 (Part 1)-1961 “Specification for Library Furniture and Fitting: Part 1 (Timber)” and IS: 1829 (Part 2)-1977 “Specification for Library Furniture and Fittings. Part 2. Steel”. These have been reaffirmed by the University Grants Commission’s Library Committee. These are very much in use. The dimension for table, chair, shelving and card catalogue cabinet can be taken from the Indian standard specification for library furniture and fittings: Part I and Part II. A few Indian standard that are applicable in library furniture and fittings are mentioned below-

a) IS 1829: This standard was first published in 1961. Indian Standard 1829, first revision of “Specification for Library Furniture and Fittings. Part 1. Timber” was adopted by the Indian Standards Institution on 22 February 1978, after the draft finalized by the Library Buildings, Fittings and Furniture Sectional Committee had been approved by the Civil Engineering Division Council.

            The Indian Standard 1829, “Specification for Library Furniture and Fittings. Part 2. Steel” was first published in 1977 by Indian Standards Institution, New Delhi.

b) IS 1883: 1983: Specification for Metal Shelving Racks, Adjustable Type (Third Revision)

c) IS: 2695: 1974: Specification for Drawing Filing Equipment (First Revision)

d) IS: 3312: 1984: Specification for Steel Shelving Cabinets (Adjustable Type) (Second Revision)

e) IS: 4116: 1988: Specification for Wooden Shelving Cabinets (Adjustable Type) (First Revision)

f) IS: 7076: 1983: Specification for Metal Book Ends (First Revision)

g) IS: 7761: 1983: Specification for Steel Book Cases (First Revision)

h) IS: 8467: 1977: Specification for Steel Card-Index Cabinets

i) IS: 9715: 1981: Specification for Steel Visible Indexing System Cabinets


4. Dimensions of Library Furniture and Fittings: The dimensions of a few library furniture and fittings are mentioned below. Mostly they are taken from IS 1829, Part I and Part II.

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. 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. 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: A periodicals display rack shall consist of twenty five compartments in five rows. Each compartment shall be of the size 265 mm x 345 mm and it shall be fitted with display shelf having a handle cum label holder. The overall dimensions of the periodicals display rack shall be of Height - 1910 mm, Width - 1435 mm and Depth - 405 mm. The outer sides of the rack shall be of 18 mm thick teak board. The uprights, top and bottom shelves shall also be made of teak board of 18 mm thickness. Intermediate horizontal shelves shall be of 12 mm commercial ply and the display shelves shall be of teak wood frame with 5 mm teak ply. 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 side 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) Charging Desk / Issue Counter: The height of the counter should be 4-5 foot and should have sufficient drawer space to accommodate all the issued documents records. The common type of design used for issue counter is circular, L-shaped, rectangular, and U-shaped.

d) Display Stand: Display stand shall be of 910 mm x 910 mm or 1 220 mm x 1 220 mm size. It shall be made of any soft surface board like perforated board, straw board, etc. It shall be capable of holding pins. Display stand may either be single or double as required.

e) Reading Room Table:  The size of the reading room table shall be 900 mm x 600 mm for single and 2400 mm x 600 mm for three readers.  The height of the table top shall be 750 mm.

The minimum kneehole space per reader shall be 450 mm deep, 650 mm high and 600 mm wide.

The footrest, either in the form of a fixed rod or as a separate pipe shall be provided at the height of 150 mm from the floor.

f) Study Table: Study table shall have the same dimensions as the reading room table for a single reader, that is, 900 mm x 600 mm. It may have additional provisions for side drawers with locking arrangement, and shelf space for keeping documents on the top of the table with lighting arrangement

g) Chair: The height of the seat of the chair above floor level shall be 430 mm.

h) 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.

5. Other Requirements: Some other requirements for a modern day libraries are as follows-

a) Computers: Typewriters are gradually replaced by computers in most of the libraries. So, it’s better to go for computer than typewriters.

b) Printer: In a modern day libraries computer printer should also be procured. It will help the reader to take the printout of the downloaded electronic document.

c) Scanner: Scanner is highly useful in document delivery services- to scan a page or two of the library book and sent it to the user as an email attachment. It can also be used for some other services.

d) Photocopiers: 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.

e) Bar Coding Equipment: In an automated library bar-coding printer, bar-coding reader and such others should also be procured.

f) Miscellaneous Items: Other miscellaneous item will include vacuum cleaners, air-conditioners, binding equipment, projectors, etc.


6. Conclusion: In the library environment different furniture and fittings are needed most of which are available in the general market. However, in selecting the library furniture one point should be keep in mind that the library is a home of all types of readers – children, young, adult and disabled person. So, there should be furniture for young and adult, the disabled person and the children. No one should feel uncomforted with any of the furniture in using or accessing any of the library facilities.

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.