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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).
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.
Library Buildings and Construction: Library Space Planning (2017)
Connecticut State Library—Using this guide and its accompanying worksheet, librarians and trustees can obtain a general estimate of their library’s space needs, and help initiate a larger facilities planning process.
Library Space: A Planning Resource for Libraries (2020)
Massachusetts Libraries Board of Library Commissioners—This document, "creates a formal set of best practices for designing library space that may be applied to libraries across the nation. The guide empowers librarians, administrators, space planners, and architects with tools for the planning and design of public library buildings. It takes the user through the step by step process of determining what to consider when designing a new library for their community, and includes illustrations of different room types, adjacencies, shelving, and seating that can be considered for a building project."
Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline (2009)
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction—This narrative outline and corresponding worksheet can help public library staff and trustees estimate their library’s future space needs to determine whether more comprehensive facility planning should be conducted.
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.