Library building design: architectural, guide lines, layouts and drawing in DWG format

Library building design: architectural guide lines, layouts and drawings in DWG format

Technical and performance requirements for a library building design together with DWG drawings and a 3D BIM example to download

Library building design: we will focus on this type of collective non-residential building, we will analyze the elements that characterize the design of this kind of building, that like museums, are not only for exposition but are also social gathering places.

Contemporary library buildings provide us with cultural services and moments of socialization: a place where we can meet people, read a book or newspaper; listen, make and record music, attend a conference or concert, follow a training course, design a website, chat, practice hobbies, watch cable tv and more.

Therefore, the architectural design of a library building has to be adapted to those new “functionalities”.

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We will show how to design a library building starting from its definition and distinctions, and then strictly focus  on the design part.

The article is supplied with images, rendering, and project drawings  (floor plans, prospects, sections) in DWG format of a library building design that we have reproduced: the “Pio IX Lateran Library” built by King Roselli Architetti architectural firm. You can download the 3D model of the  project that has obtained various Italian and international awards, and even navigate it online.

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Download the project 3D BIM  model(.edf file)

Click here to download Edificius, the architectural BIM design software


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Definition and classification

A library is traditionally the place where books are stored, catalogued and filed, for a prompt consultation (hall, building).

But it’s not only that. It is also a fundamental institution of the educational system: a set of areas dedicated to the carrying out all the activities related to collecting, storing and by giving access to books, documents and information.

Throughout time libraries have also become a meeting place for the population: besides books, there are also quiet areas where you can read in relax, rooms where you can listen to music, staying areas and halls for events, work and research stations.

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Generally, there are two main types of libraries: university library and public library.

University libraries use a systematic classification of books, depending on the university faculty, with scientific methods; they often contain rare books and fragile materials, which require special environmental conditions and need to be handle with particular care.

Public libraries guarantee an extended use thanks to a wide range of books and other media freely consultable. They are distinguished by their easy accessibility, their comfortable areas and availability of books for all population groups and ages.

Beside those two types of libraries there are also:

  • National libraries, generally prestigious venues that host a collection that in time has taken a national role
  • State libraries, that differ from other libraries based on the social and political state organization
  • School libraries, that cover a much wider range of users from elementary school libraries to secondary school libraries.

Other types of libraries usually don’t have their own building, but are located in part of a building of their associated institution. University hospitals, instead, have their own professional libraries

Lastly, specialized libraries, such as government libraries, industrial complex, research institutions and professional associations, political parties and trade unions libraries, contain collections pertinent to specific subjects.

Library building design: Organizational strategies and design issues

The different types of libraries must contain eligible  areas, divided in:

  • Conservation rooms
  • Studying and reading rooms
  • Computer stations
  • Reproduction service points
  • Administration offices, logistic areas.

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As the world of information changes, consequently, libraries had to adapt its space to different functions, to technological innovations, to the evolution of the products, to the activation of new services.

Strategic elements that affect library’s organization are:

  • The quantity of books, documents and materials;
  • The number of users;
  • The status of scholastic and cultural services in the area;
  • The number of visitors and employees;
  • Opening hours.

The designer’s duty is, first of all, to solve and to integrate the main strategies elements with technical, functional and distributional issues. Those issues can vary from structural sizing (dimensioning), to assign dimensions to each area, to equip and furnish.

It’s also very important to locate the reading areas inside the typical functional cycle of the library.

There are many different design solutions, characterized by:

  • Upper reading areas and lower bookshelves areas, in separate position;
  • Central reading areas, surrounded by bookshelves at the same level;
  • Frontal reading areas/rear bookshelves areas;
  • Bookshelves in silo structure/reading areas in separate blocks;
  • In between storage and consultation areas are located sections dedicated to rare, of great value and big format books, usually stored in locked cabinets.

In addition to reading areas and book’s storage areas, contemporary libraries, in most cases, have areas dedicated to shows and at least one break room/cafeteria.

The ratio books/population and books/sqm is given by the International Federation Library Association, together with other valuations and guide lines which all associated libraries have to follow.

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Library building design: Interior comfort, lightning, acoustics and computerization

The interior comfort depends also, in a crucial way, from the lightning system design. A close monitoring of the natural light is necessary, therefore a study of the façade’s opening, with particular attention to the walls/opening ratio, which has a direct impact on the use of the interior perimetrical surfaces.

It is also important to control the direct solar radiations on readers and books that can cause an interior microclimate imbalance.

Artificial lights can have a similar effect on different elements (opened books, work plans, floors); therefore, a similar study is necessary, we need to take in consideration the reflecting properties of the materials, diversifying furniture’s surfaces finishes.

The comfort can be improved by using different types of lightning (concentrated, diffused, reflected) to areas in which different activities are carried out; also, we should foresee anti-reflective solutions, with special attention to video monitors.

System and regulatory verifications are mainly done to guarantee the compliance with accessibility standards, fire and safety standards, security measurements and systems regulations, specifically electrical systems.

Obviously, acoustics comfort has its importance, that usually involve acoustic separation between reading areas and book lending/returning areas, and the reduction to a minimum of acoustic filters using proper materials, particularly in the reading areas.

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Computerization require strategies focused on the main types of advanced technological support, such as audiovisual, automation and computerization systems and programs, management, automation and computerization of research operation, public access and local of information, data banks access, e-books, texts, catalogues and conferences at any levels.

In this prospective, the best library is the one that offers an organization of interior areas in order to assure a wide comfort extended to workers and visitors, and, at the same time, adapting more and more the new models of fruition and management of the book’s culture.

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Download the project 3D BIM model (.edf file)


Click here to download Edificius, the architectural BIM design softwrae


Download the DWGs of the project drawings


Have you seen the objects present within the project? Are you also interested in other BIM object libraries for your projects?

Download free Texture resources, CAD blocks and 3D models for your project here!