Open, unmanned libraries - what is this?

August 31 / Unmanned open library

Open, unmanned libraries are open to visitors, also when they are not manned by personnel. This allows for extended opening hours and yet, greater public service.

The reasons for having an open, unmanned library are many;  

Increase the accessibility for those who want to visit the library with longer opening hours. In today’s society we more or less require services of all kinds to be available when we need it.

The possibility to have open, unmanned libraries has increased in pace with technological advances. Internet reservations, self-service machines and card readers are examples of this, as well as technology with automatic start / stop of light, code locks on doors, etc.

It may also be due to pure cost savings. In Denmark, for example, closure of several branch libraries in 2007 was the result of a restructuring of the local government. To somehow compensate for this, unmanned, open libraries were introduced to increase accessibility.


Hayridge Public Library, United Kingdom

No need to stop and ask for directions

November 5 / Signage

Clear signage steers people to the right product

We all know the feeling of not being able to find what we are looking for and let’s be honest, we’d rather find it ourselves than have to ask.

That is why signage is so important in a library. It gives people the information they need to find what they are looking for without having to take up a librarian’s time.

Wayfinding or directory signage placed at the entrance of a library, will quickly and easily direct people to the correct zone within the library. Once in the right area, clear shelf signage will help them find exactly what they are after.

Longsight Public Library, United Kingdom
Manchester City Public Library, United Kingdom

Visualise the media

June 18 / Technology

Integrate media into library furniture

Integrating screens into shelving can be a way of visualising the media you can’t hold in your hands. The screens are mostly integrated into end panels, but it is also a possibility to integrate the screen into a display, such as Ordrup display, where the news can run over the screen. The screens can be an eye-catcher in the library and inspire the users in their search after new books. The screens can have several different functions such as way finding, a search tool for the users, give information to the users from the library and advertisement. Many of screens are interactive and can be used by the users.

The screens are customised for the users and the function with each project. 

Integrating screens into shelving is an area in development and always changing.

Avedøre Public Library, Denmark
Ørestaden Public Library, Denmark

The library of the future is here

February 24 / Technology

Keep up-to-date!

We constantly keep abreast of the latest happenings and developments in the library world in order to fuel our inspiration and feed our hunger to remain at the forefront of library design.

The Hunt Library, located on North Carolina State University’s research campus, is without a doubt the library of the future. It is a flagship and benchmark for libraries wanting to embrace digital technology.

With high-tech tools, immersive spaces and an environment that fosters collaboration, the Hunt Library helps students turn ideas into reality.

It is a place of passion and vision; reflection and creativity – all of which are assisted and nurtured through the use of interactive computing, multimedia and large-scale visualization tools, enabling revolutionary ways to see and use information.

This library is evidence that the libraries of the future are not buildings where dust settles on books, but rather lively hubs where people can interact with new technologies and create amazing things.

Hunt Academic Library, North Carolina, USA
Hunt Academic Library, North Carolina, USA

Countless possibilities for placement and function

December 4 / Graphics

Graphics can be placed on various materials in the library and function in various ways

Graphics are a fun way to combine décor with navigation. Because of their visual nature, graphics can be easily understood by both adults and children and provide you with countless possibilities when designing a library.

Floor graphics are an interesting and often unexpected way to tell visitors what to do or where to go. Graphics can also be placed on glass walls and partitions surrounding offices and conference rooms in order to create a degree of privacy without completely closing the areas off. Custom-made graphics are ideal for placing on shelving or end panels where they can tell a little story and help create and demarcate specific zones. The right graphics will resonate with certain audiences and will communicate which books are where without even having to use text.

Hjørring Public Library, Denmark
Grenoble Public Library, France
Craigmillar Public Library, United Kingdom

Let the books sell themselves

December 4 / Unmanned open library

Interesting book displays are crucial in unmanned, open libraries

During ‘staff-less’ opening hours, when there are no librarians present to explain and guide readers, it is very important that the books are able to sell themselves. Placing books on display units or sloping shelves, breaks the monotony of rows of books on straight shelves and assists library visitors in choosing an interesting read by catching their attention and showing the beautifully designed book covers.

Much like the retail environment where products are placed near the cash register or entrance to tempt you to purchase, today’s modern libraries are mimicking this ‘shop-concept’ and placing ‘quick choices’ and new arrivals near the entrance or library counter. This provides visitors with an easy reference point to choose a book that the library is showcasing and recommending. These displays take the hassle and guesswork out of finding a good book and use the book covers to sell themselves.

Hayridge Public Library, United Kingdom
Manchester City Library, United Kingdom

Be inspired by the architecture

December 4 / Interior design and architecture

Take cues from the library building to influence layout and furniture choice

Let the architecture of the library building inspire the interior design. Incorporate the historical, modern or distinct architecture of the building to create a coherent interior design.

Cultural Centre North-Western District, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cultural Centre North-Western District, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cultural Centre North-Western District, Copenhagen, Denmark

Highlight the books

December 4 / Lighting

Eccles Public Library, United Kingdom

Modern LED lights are a simple yet effective way to solve poor lighting conditions

Lighting often poses a problem in a library and can cause discomfort and difficulty when trying to distinguish one book from another, especially in poorly lit corners or on bottom shelves. Rather than having to put in new ceiling lights, installing LED lights onto the shelves themselves is a nifty solution to this problem.

Installing LED lighting on the shelves, will light up each row of shelving and will make reading the titles on the spines of the books much easier. It will also modernise your shelving and create a very sophisticated look.

Always seek professional guidance when deciding which lights to install on shelving.

Let there be light

December 4 / Lighting

The right lighting can create the perfect ambiance

Don’t stick to boring, standard lighting. Today, there is an array of creative and interesting lighting systems to choose from in order to create the perfect ambiance and atmosphere.

Cultural Centre North-Western District, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nes Public Library, Norway

Self-service stations

December 4 / Technology

Shirley Public Library, United Kingdom

Allow library users to take charge and help themselves

Today, most libraries have Self-service Stations which are automated loan and return desks and enable library users to take out and return books on their own, without the need for a librarian or staff member.  These stations are often placed at the entrance/exit as it is most convenient for the user. 

Customize your shelving to better fit the identity of your library

December 4 / Shelving functions

Switch regular straight shelves for more interesting functions

A shelving system is no longer restricted to straight shelves. You can add interest to your library shelving and really create a customised system that matches your library’s identity, by replacing regular shelves with shelf components that have various functions. By adding different functions, the flexibility of your shelving increases. Need a place where users can sit down and look at books? Then replace shelves with a bench. Or replace a shelf with a pull-out browser, sloping shelf, pull-out table … the possibilities are endless.

Christiansfeld Public Library, Denmark
Holte Public Library, Denmark
Ismanning Public Library, Germany

A visual and vibrant way to help people navigate the library

November 23 / Graphics

Stockton Public Library, United Kingdom

Graphics are a great way to visually guide people through the library

The beauty of graphics is that they are easily and intuitively understood by both children and adults. The possibilities are endless – from wayfinding signs to shelf labels; wall visuals to directory signage - well-designed and thought-out graphics can create a visual impact and give a library the wow factor that turns it from boring to captivating.   

Create zones through the clever placement of carpets

November 23 / Carpets

Carpets are a simple yet effective way to create zones and areas

Arranging seating on a carpet effortlessly creates a zone without having to use physical barriers. The carpet will provide cohesion to the space and act as a placeholder for furniture thus preventing it from being moved around the library.

A design, graphic or text detail on the carpet can hint to the use of the space and give the area its own ambiance. Do keep in mind, however, the choice of colour and material you go with. You want a resilient material that will withstand high footfall and usage, as well as a darker colour that will not show up dirt and marks.

Vallentuna Public Library, Sweden
Tarnos Media Library, France
Klostergården Public Library, Sweden

Carpets need not be linear

November 23 / Carpets

Carpets in curvy, organic shapes are a good contrast to the rigid, square-lined shelving

Use the shape of a carpet to add fun and interest to an area. Especially in the children’s and youth zones where you can be more adventurous and daring. It’s all about using carpets creatively to demarcate a specific zone in an effective yet unobtrusive manner.

Herning Public Library, Denmark
Falcon Marin Public Library, Italy
Christiansfeld Public Library, Denmark

Signage is not limited to plain text

November 23 / Signage

Combine text with graphics to create signage that is fun and eye-catching

Signage represents an opportunity to get creative and add impact and interest to your library. Plain text signs are boring. By combining text and graphics, you can guide users through your library in a visual way. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words!

Affligem Public Library, Belgium
MedaTeca Public Library, Italy
Remiremont Public Library, France