ReOpening the Library: Guidelines to Consider

How do you figure out how many people can fit in your library? Here are ideas on how to approach learning space occupancy and how you can start applying them. We included some strategies to develop a basic up-to-date, fact-based library plan framework. You can use this information to update your library services. And at corporations, colleges or Universities, these guidelines can be used to define collaboration and provide individual work environments. DISTANCE ZONES In their 1979 book, Aaron and Elaine Cohen described the personal distance sensing processes for libraries and corporate offices. They detailed library programming according to Robert Sommer’s work, which required functionality to be a priority during planning. To program and plan the library or school, Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD broke down the space into functional parts, which we call the behavioral bubble. The Cohen’s defined the behavioral bubble as follows: intimate (up to 18 inches), personal (18 inches to 4 feet), Social Distance (6 feet to 12 feet) and Public Distance (12 to 25 feet). FATHER OF THE BEHAVIORAL BUBBLE Robert Sommer, professor of psychology, measured how close someone could sit next to another person in a library before they reacted. He wrote Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design. He made the case that libraries, Universities and schools should be built first for function (the usefulness and safety of the user), not form (how they look) drives planning. Here are some preliminary functional ideas on how to plan and reopen your library. They are not complete nor will they ever be, but they are a start and approach for you to begin. Here are some updated guidelines: 1. Analyze the behavioral bubble requirements (6 ft. diameter around a space) = 36 NASF 2. Use a CAD plan to analyze the library – drop in 6 ft. diameter bubbles e.g. Chair and Seat 3. Test the facility air flow – get an architectural / engineering firm to analyze the HVAC system 4. Think about how to develop pop up libraries – outside the library or near a park 5. Develop touch-less services (curb side check in, touch-less lockers system, vending machines) OTHER NOTE WORTHY RESEARCH Steelcase education developed a social distancing guidelines to help Universities, Colleges and Schools. Their white paper provides helpful spatial considerations. This information can be used to define your classroom and collaborative spaces. CLICK HERE Aaron Cohen developed standards for library study space including: Old Carrel Standard = 30 sq. ft. / New Carrel = 36 sq. ft. The association between ventilation and infection CRITICAL NEXT STEPS: We have found fighting for libraries and spreading a program-based worldview to be inspiring and joyful way to spend our time. We want to enable our library clients to be able to move forward in the safest manner as possible. We offer this three Step Process: Step One – Please assess your immediate service challenges and ensure a safe distancing environment. Step Two – Develop a library service plan to improve staff development, collections, outreach and distance programming. Step Three – Develop a new library program for occupancy