Designing a People-Focused Library

From Shelf Space to Social Space

June 7–July 12, 2017

4 Live Sessions Over 6 Weeks
Live Sessions on Wednesdays at 11:00 AM ET: June 7, 14, 28 & July 12, 2017

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People Focused

Designing a great library used to start with the books. Now, it starts with users and their needs. Learn what people want from their library and how to translate that into spaces that are flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, and enable today’s learning, creation, and community connections.

Craft your roadmap for creating a future-facing building for your public or academic community—aligning your priorities with your community’s perspectives, goals, and aspirations. Learn strategies from leading librarians and design thinkers in live keynote sessions and get personalized feedback on your plans from a dedicated advisor that will provide one-on-one feedback for your plan. You will also participate in online discussion groups, where you can share resources and best practices with peers from across the country.

Identify and build your network of stakeholders who will be integrally involved in the design process, including your board, administration, staff, funders, and more. Expand your influence by learning to build additional buy-in from traditional library supporters around a vision that balances access to collections with actively engaging with that knowledge in new ways.

By the end of the course, participants will learn

  • User-centered design strategies to engage your community in the process of envisioning your library space.
  • Space planning techniques to help you imagine flexible spaces for community connection, creation, and engagement, while still housing the right collections–including off-site, shared, electronic, or high-density storage solutions to reclaim space and still maximize access.
  • Build new or renovate: Understand whether your existing space can be reclaimed or augmented to meet new user demand or whether it’s time to invest in a new building.
  • Fund-raising strategies: How to approach fundraising as an integral part of community participation in the design process.
  • Find the right design team: How to choose the right professionals to make your library vision a reality.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have

  • A roadmap outlining the actions you need to create a library space suited to the unique needs of your community and flexible enough to serve the community as it grows and evolves in the future.
  • Inspiring ideas, concepts, and perspectives from leading architects, designers, and librarians working in the field of library design.

Online course features

  • Instructor-led online courses feature personalized interaction over four weeks
  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available afterward)
  • Weekly homework assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help sort out challenges
  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums
  • Articles, videos and other resources

In this archived webcast, course host and presenter Emily Puckett Rodgers, Space Design and Assessment Librarian at University of Michigan Library and LJ course advisor, explains what it means to have a user-focused library from shelf to social space.

Sponsored by:


Group discounts are available!

Register in groups for a unique team-building experience and get everyone working together. Contact us to learn more.


Course Schedule

WEEK 1: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

SESSION 1: Opening Keynote: Design Equity in Practice

11:00-11:45 AM ET

What does it mean to involve members of a community in a design process? How can you include a variety of voices and keep in mind principles of equity of access in the process? Una Lee, founder of And Also Too, a collaborative design studio, will speak about her experiences partnering with communities to create unique and creative design solutions in support of social justice work. She will share her experiences creating the Vision Archive, an icon library to facilitate communication around social justice causes, issues, and initiatives. You’ll learn about methods for engagement you can apply to your own community conversations.


Una Lee, Founder, And Also Too Collaborative Design Studio

SESSION 2: People-Centered Approaches in Small Libraries

11:45-12:30 PM ET

Learn from the program manager and participating librarians of the “Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces” project as small and rural libraries reimagine existing library spaces to support active learning, community engagement, and diverse users. You’ll hear about the strategies participants have used and plan to use to engage their community in the process of envisioning their library spaces and which tactics they are applying to their reimagination project.


Betha Gutsche
Betha Gutsche, Program Manager, WebJunction

Weekly Assignment: Priorities, Questions & Direction
Create a tailored list of key questions to be answered by stakeholders at your library and a list of priorities specific to your library’s building or renovation plans.

WEEK 2: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SESSION 1: Solid Foundations: Building the Right Relationships to Build the Right Library

11:00-11:45 AM ET

A journey through the process from selecting the right architect, contractor, and other professionals to scoping your project in tandem with them through communicating with stakeholders and handling the inevitable setbacks. This nuts and bolts session from presenting sponsor Tappé Architects will give first time builders and renovators a “what to expect” style preview of the steps ahead, while helping veterans fine-tune their process to get the best results and avoid common pitfalls. Case studies and best practices from libraries, like the 2017 AIA/ALA Library Building Award-winning Varina Area Library in Virginia, will address issues including how to create a people focused space when you’re adapting a classic Carnegie (renovated by Tappé Architects) or other “temple to the book” historic design.


Jeffrey Hoover
Jeffrey Hoover, Principal Architect, Tappé Architects

SESSION 2: From Inside to Out: Change Management’s Role in Your Design Project

11:45-12:30 PM ET

Involving and preparing staff for big changes in environment can be an important key to success. This session will explore staff considerations during the design process, including how to meaningfully involve your team in the entire process, prepare a staff for occupation of a new building, and considerations for staff workspace design in 21st century libraries.


Bill Ptacek
Bill Ptacek
, Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Public Library (Canada)

Weekly Assignment: Set and Prioritize Goals and Define Deliverables
This week, we explore the topic of fundraising for your design project, a complex subject that will vary greatly from project to project. We’ll provide detailed guidelines to help organize your planning.

WEEK 3: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SESSION 1: How to Build Relationships for a Successful Campaign or Fundraising Strategy

11:00-11:45 AM ET

This session will explore strategies for how to build relationships with donors, your community, or the public sector to raise the financial resources you will need for your renovation or new building. You’ll learn how how public and private funding are both needed for many construction projects and how to go about planning for both of these needs. We’ll explore how libraries have used fundraising to engage their community in the design process to build momentum and excitement for the work and how to keep these relationships flourishing after a successful build.


Leslie Modrow
Leslie Modrow, Development Director, Billings Public Library Foundation

SESSION 2: Grassroots to Groundbreaking: Community-Led Design

11:45-12:30 PM ET

Architect and storyteller Margaret Sullivan shares lessons from the massive redesign of Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina, which includes several branch libraries. Margaret will briefly introduce the Library as Studio concept that emerged from community-led design sessions. We’ll show you how to engage your community in dialogue and brainstorming, how to effectively partner with your design and construction teams, how to collaborate with key stakeholders to build momentum and movement for your project that can lead to transformative community results.


Margaret Sullivan
Margaret Sullivan
, Margaret Sullivan Studio

Weekly Assignment: Fundraising Considerations & Testing Assumptions

WEEK 4: Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SESSION 1: When Everything Old Is New Again: Is Renovation Right For You?

11:00-11:45 AM ET

We’ll examine the benefits of renovation, versus new construction, as a sometimes more affordable, often greener solution to creating a new library experience. The session will show you how to see your space with new eyes to discover what can be repurposed in creative ways and how you can use this as an opportunity to re-energize staff and the community in new partnerships or service development.


John Trischitti III
John Trischitti
, Library Director, Midland County Public Library (TX)

SESSION 2: LEEDing and Living: Sustainability’s Role in Your Project

11:45-12:30 PM ET

Creating a building that is environmentally sustainable from construction to ongoing operations requires clear planning and communications. In this session, we’ll examine some key factors of building certification programs, like LEED certification, applied to the renovation of the James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University, and how this approach fits into their user-centered design priorities. We also take a look at some of the reasons that green matters—and how you can make a case for it in your community.


Dennis Clark
, Associate University Librarian for Research & Learning, Virginia Commonwealth University

Weekly Assignment:
Take an environmental sustainability audit of your current library to see where environmental impact could be reduced through renovation or new construction and plan a theoretical building renovation by scale.