Dewey Decibel Podcast: Libraries of All Shapes and Sizes

September 30, 2019

First, American Libraries Senior Editor and Dewey Decibel host Phil Morehart speaks with Gretchen Caserotti, director of Meridian (Idaho) Library District, about its 320-square-foot Tiny Library. Next, American Libraries Managing Editor Terra Dankowski discusses the construction of Austin (Texas) Public Library’s $125 million Central Library with its project manager, Cynthia Jordan. Finally, Morehart speaks with Rachel … Continue reading Dewey Decibel Podcast: Libraries of All Shapes and Sizes


2019 Library Design Showcase

September 3, 2019 Welcome to the 2019 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These shining examples of innovative architectural feats address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. Renovations and expansions continue to dominate submissions, as communities find novel ways to conserve and honor existing spaces while moving them well into … Continue reading 2019 Library Design Showcase

ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

2019 ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

September 3, 2019 Tutt Library, Colorado College, Colorado SpringsArchitect: PfeifferPhoto: Steve Lerum Calgary (Alberta) Public Library, Central LibraryArchitect: Snøhetta and DialogPhoto: Michael Grimm The Milstein Center at Barnard College, New York CityArchitect: Skidmore, Owings, and MerrillPhoto: Magda Biernat San Mateo County (Calif.) Libraries, Half Moon Bay branchArchitect: Noll and Tam ArchitectsPhoto: Anthony Lindsey Photography Toronto Public Library, Albion … Continue reading 2019 ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

Tiny but Mighty

September 3, 2019

Meridian Library District’s (MLD) Tiny Library—a brick-red, 320-square-foot repurposed shipping container—stands out. As families cross the parking lot to the YMCA and spot the new building, we’ve heard kids ask “Can we go today?” and adults remark “This is so neat!” The Tiny Library was born out of the desire partner with other community organizations … Continue reading Tiny but Mighty


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Process Matters in Design

September 3, 2019

Participatory design is more than a needs assessment, a focus group, or even an ethnographic study—stakeholders actively contribute to defining problems and designing solutions. They are considered equal members of a research and design team rather than treated as research subjects. Given the diversity of library design projects and our user-centered focus, it seems a … Continue reading Process Matters in Design


Librarian's Library: Karen Muller

A Librarian’s Good-Bye

June 3, 2019

In 1970, I was working in book receipts at Boston Public Library and just beginning to consider library school when I expressed an interest in cataloging during a coffee break with colleagues. Bill Crowe, who became dean of University of Kansas Libraries, suggested Cataloging USA, by Paul S. Dunkin, published by the American Library Association … Continue reading A Librarian’s Good-Bye


MetroNaps EnergyPod reclines and plays soothing sounds for 20-minute power naps.

Pod Help Us

January 2, 2019

MetroNaps EnergyPod MetroNaps EnergyPods were designed for power-napping, and while they’re most often seen in corporate offices, some academic libraries have adopted them for students. The EnergyPod has a built-in timer that cycles through a 20-minute nap sequence, a length some sleep studies have shown to improve alertness and possibly benefit learning. Through the built-in … Continue reading Pod Help Us



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