People Places

People Places: A guide for planning public library buildings

People Places will assist you with the planning and design of public library buildings.

There are five sections to guide you through the process. Sections can be used independently, collectively or in sequence depending on what is appropriate for the particular project.

It is important to remember that each library building and the service it provides is unique and should reflect the needs and aspirations of its community. The examples are not intended to be replicated in communities throughout NSW, but rather to highlight a range of approaches.

Features and considerations

Service areas


Planning tools


Reading and references

About People Places

There have been a number of editions of People Places over the years with many people providing valuable input. All editions have been developed in close consultation with library stakeholders and practitioners involved in the planning, building and management of public libraries in NSW. The current update has been developed with input from Elton Consulting, fjmt and Neeson Murcutt Architects. fjmt were engaged for the review of the third edition of People Places which has been used as a basis for the online version of the publication.

An overview of changes from the 2012 publication to the online version of People Places is provided for reference.

We wish to acknowledge the contribution of Dr David Jones, State Library of NSW. His extensive work on the previous editions included the development of the templates for preparing briefs for architects. These have been updated for this online version. Consultants Heather Nesbitt and Bligh Voller Nield also made significant contributions to the development of the first and second editions of the publication.

Finally we would like to thank all NSW public library staff and managers who have participated in workshops, focus groups and interviews and provided feedback for People Places. Their input is critical to its ongoing success.

In July 2019 ALIA endorsed People Places as a national standard.

Photos for People Places

Thank you to all libraries who have allowed us to use their photos throughout this website. If you would like photos of your public library included please email Kate O'Grady. Photos should be at least 1 MB in size.

People places: A guide for planning public library buildings
Β© State Library of New South Wales, August 2020

This work is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or part for study and training purposes subject to the inclusion of acknowledgment of the source and no commercial usage or sale. Reproduction for purposes other than those indicated above requires permission from the State Library of NSW.

People Places: A guide for public library buildings in New South Wales [PDF 6.15 MB] (as at February 2022) is available to download.


Updated on 27 February 2024