Book Reviews

David R. Moore II and Eric C. Shoaf. Planning Optimal Library Spaces: Principles, Processes, and Practices. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 196p. Hardback, $85.00 (ISBN: 978-1-5381-0940-3).

Book cover: Planning Optimal Library Spaces: Principles, Processes, and Practices

There are few aspects of libraries that create more pride and also more problems than renovating a library or building a new one. There is pride in knowing that you will have this new facility with all new furniture. It will be bright and inviting. But to get from A to B, there will be many headaches as decision after decision will have to be made. One hopes that, once the work is all done, the pride will be there without any issues of design having trumped function or people wondering about why X was placed in spot Y. To aid in making the transition from old, cold, leaky, and out of date to shiny, new, efficient, and inviting, David Moore II and Eric Shoaf have teamed up to give us Planning Optimal Library Spaces: Principles, Processes, and Practices. Moore is an architect whose thirty-year career has focused entirely on libraries, and Shoaf, the Dean of the Library at Queens University in Charlotte, NC, is a thirty-year veteran of academic libraries with extensive involvement in library renovation and building projects at multiple institutions.

It is important to note first that the book looks at both public and academic libraries. Many issues are similar between the two, and the authors do an excellent job of pulling out the nuances associated with both. The first half of the book deals primarily with discussions of planning and processes. Almost the whole second half of the book is taken up with case studies of six different libraries (three public and three academic). Each library faces its own challenges, timelines, and processes for getting the work done. They vary in size from an 8,000-square-foot public library to a 300,000-square-foot academic library. These case studies are particularly important, as they represent real-world examples of completed projects. There are photographs of spaces. Floor plans are also provided for each. They also allow the reader an opportunity to walk through the complete process that Moore and Shoaf speak about in the first half of the book. The reader sees what existed in the library and what changes are proposed, with summaries and data associated with each. This is followed up with a breakdown of the phases of the project and what areas and services were impacted. When appropriate, the impacts on depositories are presented. The graphics included are excellent, clear, and in color. A reader will feel as is he or she just sat down with an architect and designer after going through them. If the book only provided the case studies, it would be invaluable.

Much of the information in the case studies follows the processes outlined in the first half of the book. The authors indicate that their process is “an innovative approach to planning library spaces and following through with renovations” (xix). The approach focuses primarily on those conducting renovations. In this case, they use a Road Map approach to library master planning. This approach allows a library to consider the future of the library and how it might need to change to better serve those who might use the spaces. Much of this discussion focuses on knowing where a library wants to be, considers the challenges it faces to modify spaces to get there, and then begins the design work.

The discussion begins with an explanation of why the Road Map approach should be considered when doing a renovation. It explores the drivers of change that different libraries are facing and factors that are acting as inhibitors. Next, the authors outline the six steps of a Road Map. A vast amount of the discussion focuses on the first three steps, which include assessment or analysis, engagement with appropriate parties and patrons, and defining how collections and programs intersect with the vision. This gathering of data is important to understand what is important and impactful to ensure value in the final product. The other three steps in the process are design, phasing, and budgeting. Budgeting takes into consideration the fact that the work will be done in phases. This addresses the challenge some libraries may face if they cannot produce enough funds up front. Each phase can happen independently if needed. Since funding is a critical detail in every project, the authors provide a whole chapter focused on understanding renovations budgets. Since collections can take up a significant amount of space within the areas being renovated, the authors include a chapter on collection storage as well. Different ways of shelving and storing collections are presented with accompanying data that the reader will find to be easily understandable.

Planning Optimal Library Spaces is clear and easy to read. The glossy color photographs and images help to add to what is discussed. The reader is taken from a general discussion of how to use a Road Map in library master planning to actually seeing it employed in multiple case studies. Actually seeing the academic libraries transformed in the case studies is very educational. This book is recommended for any director or dean considering a renovation project. It provides a lot of useful information even if one does not use the Road Map approach.—Mark E. Shelton, College of the Holy Cross

Copyright Mark E. Shelton

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