Defining Quality in Academic Library Spaces

Criteria to Guide Space Planning and Ongoing Evaluation

In: The Translational Design of Universities


The chapter addresses the key question of “what defines quality in academic library spaces?” Drawing upon a review of existing literature on planning, design and post-occupancy evaluation of libraries, a framework is proposed which includes six key factors to be considered in the planning and design of academic library spaces: (1) functionality; (2) being learner-centred; (3) sustainability; (4) social inclusiveness; (5) being technology-infused; and (6) a sense of inspiration.

Development of this framework was followed by a series of site visits from sixteen academic libraries in Australia in order to better understand the practical implications of the criteria of quality included in the proposed framework and to examine different ways of translating them into the language of space design. Each of the libraries visited had responded to a certain context, specific challenges, and a set of requirements in a unique way. Different design features and responses in these library spaces were linked to the six key factors and their corresponding criteria of quality and measures and helped in mapping out the current trends and issues in planning, design, and evaluation of academic library spaces.

The chapter concludes with addressing the importance of refining the definition of quality of library spaces according to the social, cultural, pedagogical and technology-related contexts of an institution and highlighting the need for ongoing evaluation of library spaces quality.


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