2018 ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

September 4, 2018 The following libraries are winners of the 2018 Library Building Awards, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association’s Library Leadership and Management Association. The awards recognize the best in library architecture and design and are open to any architect licensed in the United States. Projects may be located anywhere in … Continue reading 2018 ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

Loudoun County (Va.) Public Library used a vacant space in a shopping center for its Sterling branch. Photo: Sam Kittner

Repurpose with a Purpose

September 4, 2018

When possible conversions loom on the horizon, libraries must be prepared. In all conversion situations, one of the major problems involves the building shaping the library rather than the library shaping the building. Many spaces may lack the basic functional needs of libraries, such as ceilings high enough for reflected uplighting, sufficient power supplies, workable … Continue reading Repurpose with a Purpose


As part of its DIY makeover, Francis W. Parker School in Chicago added beanbag chairs to its library. Photo: Francis W. Parker School

Design on the Cheap

September 4, 2018

Start with what you have The first step in any design project, big or small, is intense self-reflection. Brian Lee, architect and design partner at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, has designed libraries around the world, including the award-winning Chinatown branch of Chicago Public Library (CPL), which opened in 2015. He stresses the importance of research … Continue reading Design on the Cheap


Librarian's Library: Karen Muller

Learning Outside the Box

May 1, 2018

Building or renovating a library is often only cursorily covered. The Practical Handbook of Library Architecture: Creating Building Spaces That Work, by Fred Schlipf and John A. Moorman, is long overdue. Its functional predecessor, Planning Academic and Research Library Buildings, third edition, by Philip D. Leighton and David C. Weber (ALA Editions, 1999), answers many … Continue reading Learning Outside the Box


Prince George's County (Md.) Memorial Library System, Laurel Branch Library. Photo: Sam Kittner

Show Us Your Beautiful New Library

January 2, 2018

We are looking for libraries that are shining examples of innovative architecture and that address patrons’ needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. Previous submissions have ranged from stunning restorations of historic Carnegie buildings to vacant structures that have been repurposed into libraries to high-tech facilities with audio and video production studios. If your library … Continue reading Show Us Your Beautiful New Library


Michigan State University librarian Eric Tans with the book debinding machine

Leading the Green Revolution

November 1, 2017

“When you start talking about compost and food waste, people immediately think of fruit flies and mice and stinky garbage,” Tans says. As the school’s environmental sciences librarian, Tans participates in MSU Libraries’ robust programming around recycling, composting, and deaccessioning books. Founded in 1855, MSU is a historically agricultural school. The institution’s long tradition of … Continue reading Leading the Green Revolution


A team returns a restored mural to the wall in Boston Public Library’s Bates Hall.

Saving Our Murals

November 1, 2017

It’s one of three murals in the library’s entryway, painted by artist John Theodore Jacobsen when the art deco building opened in 1934. Jacobsen was also a preeminent architect, helping lay the groundwork for Pacific Northwest modernism. But the mural was almost lost forever to water damage following a storm that hit the library during … Continue reading Saving Our Murals


Welcome to Wrocław

September 22, 2017

“It is time for you, at this conference, to engage and explore,” said Donna Scheeder, president of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), to the crowd gathered for the Opening Session of the 2017 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) on August 20. “I’m sure among this group is a future IFLA president somewhere.” Speakers seemed … Continue reading Welcome to Wrocław


The 11 cascading levels of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Visiting Egypt’s Libraries

September 19, 2017

The new Biblioteca Alexandrina The Bibliotheca Alexandrina complex comprises not just a library building but also a planetarium and conference center. A large fence with guard stations about every 25 meters runs along the corniche. This was once where you could enter the grounds, but due to security precautions prompted by political turmoil, the entrance … Continue reading Visiting Egypt’s Libraries



2017 Library Design Showcase

2017 Library Design Showcase

September 1, 2017

Welcome to the 2017 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These are shining examples of innovative architectural feats that address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. Renovations and expansions dominated this year, showing that libraries are holding on to and breathing new life into spaces already cherished … Continue reading 2017 Library Design Showcase