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Public Libraries: Space Planning and Funding

Helping bring libraries’ visions to life.

May 4th, 2023 - 3 min read

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln. An important reminder from the 16th President of the United States that just as (if not more) important than the action, is the care and consideration you put into its planning.

For public libraries who are ready to develop, expand, and/or optimize their space, taking the time to thoroughly develop a plan can provide exponential value for the communities they serve. Part of this plan should include examining available funding sources you can utilize and the systems necessary to accommodate the needs of residents for years to come.

In our third and final Public Libraries solutions blog series piece (read the Off-site Storage & Adaptive Spaces and Transformation & Meeting Spaces), we’ll provide several funding and purchasing options you can employ, as well as tips on how to ensure you’ve considered every current need and potential future demand, allowing you maximize every square foot.

public library shelving as display
public library custom shelving solutions
public library compact basement storage

The Fundamentals of Funding

According to WordsRated 93.86% of library funding comes from the government (local, state, or federal), while the remaining 6.14% comes from other sources including private donations, fees, fines, or grants.

As you consider one or more of these funding sources for your library project, make sure you don’t forget that contracts can also offer a powerful option for purchasing the items you need. Contracts are systems set up by state governments and other organizations to evaluate products and negotiate pricing with esteemed vendors. This process, in turn allows most libraries and archives in the U.S. and Canada to save time and money when purchasing these vendors’ products by using Sourcewell, Omnia Partners, and/or state contracts.

custom storage for public library children areas
custom storage for public library children areas

Appealing To The Census

Today’s public libraries have become an outlet for most forms of expression and learning that patrons could imagine. Whether it’s a room for children to enjoy a book read aloud, makerspace to master a new skill, or a quiet corner to explore their favorite genre of literature, visitors utilize their library’s available space for an assortment of reasons that vary day to day. Knowing this, is a great way to kick off your space planning efforts is to uncover and understand the needs of your patrons.

Now that you’ve acquired a firm understanding of what your community and its members demand from a library, it’s time to evaluate your current configuration’s ability to fill those needs and what additions/subtractions would help in facilitating them in the future. Here is where employing the services of an expert storage specialist (ideally one that understands your local market) can help optimize your space and budget.

public library powered mobile shelving system

Choose Your Own Adventure Space Planning

You’ve polled the masses and brought in the experts, now it’s time to fill your space with functional solutions. Unlike static storage systems of the past, adaptability is a requirement for modern solutions, so that staff and users can arrange their space to best suit the day’s needs. Let’s take a look at a few of these options, designed to optimize your space planning and ensure the greatest amount of value can be produced each day.

Open space facilitates endless possibilities. This is why utilizing high-density mobile shelving in your library can help provide increased opportunities for your patrons. Capable of storing the same volume of materials in half the amount of space needed for static shelving, high-density mobile shelving eliminates unused aisle space and frees up room for pursuing a variety of productive avenues.

Inspiration Guide

Download our library inspiration guide for all the innovative ways the right storage solution can transform your space and impact your community.
public library flexible shelving systems

When a more adaptable solution is required to keep up with on-the-fly adjustments, opting for solutions like Spacesaver’s Flexible Shelving units could be the perfect choice. Mounted on concealed or exposed casters and designed for versatility, these units can move at the pace of your project’s need, ensuring you’ll arrive at a happy ending no matter where your path leads you.

With so many outlets for learning and growth, a visit to the library can be an all-day affair for patrons young and old. That said, adding secure storage options for personal belongings to your space plan can go a long way for staff and visitors alike. Day Use Lockers provide a secure solution that can be customized to fit your library’s look, while giving your patrons the feeling that their possessions are safe while they explore all the building has to offer.

While these three pieces are important for creating an environment that is ideal for community learning and interaction within your library, there are additional options within our portfolio that you can employ. Check out our full lineup of library solutions and reach out to your local Spacesaver representative for more information on how to better serve the public in your library.

Founding the Future

With more than five decades of experience in providing efficient storage systems for a wide array of installations at thousands of libraries throughout North America, Spacesaver’s team of experts can help to ensure every inch of your location is dedicated to the benefit of your community’s members.

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