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Library Planning: Space Needs Assessment

Space Needs Assessment

A space needs assessment is a process that documents and analyzes the space needs of a library. A space needs assessment should be conducted by the library director and board. In some instances, a library could also work with a building consultant.

Libraries looking to meet the Future-Focused level of the Standards for Public Libraries need to perform a space needs assessment every 3–5 years (F15).

Benefits of a Space Needs Assessment:

  • Advocacy: A library can use the findings of an assessment to advocate for new shelving, a new building, new children, teen, or adult spaces, etc.
  • By conducting a space needs assessment, “librarians and trustees can obtain a general estimate of their library’s space needs based on their library’s underlying service goals” (Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline).
  • With a space needs assessment, “planners can assess the adequacy of their library’s existing overall square footage…” (Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline).
  • "An estimate of the library’s overall space need can be used to evaluate whether the existing space is sufficient or whether an expansion is warranted" (Key Issues in Building Design).

Step-By-Step Resources

The resources in this box can help walk the board, director, or contractor through the steps of a space needs assessment for the library. Each has a unique approach and places value on different areas of library services. When conducting this assessment, remember that the purpose of a space needs assessment is to use the library's space to best serve the community.

Additional Resources:

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.