Features and considerations: Order and orientation

Clear relationships between spaces within the library and its exterior promotes a pleasant and practical experience.

Internal view of library with lounges, tables and chairs and bookshelves

A simply laid-out library where the relationship and access between spaces is clear and logical will be easier to use. This will result in a better experience for both clients and staff. Its relationship to the exterior and its context is critical, including public open space, streets and pedestrian ways. Solar orientation should be addressed. Clear routes of travel assist in creating legibility and promote a sense of orientation. This makes things easier to find and prevents disruption between functions and additional load on staff.

Establishing orientation

Unobstructed sightlines and visual markers or alternatively colour coding and artworks can provide a means of orientation in larger buildings. For example, an artwork hanging over a service desk or a desk located near an open void/atrium between floors will allow it to be seen from greater distances.

Setting order

Equally the set out of the shelving should be clear and logical. This does not necessarily mean the shelving should be regimented but it should allow a systematic sequencing and an ordered location of types. It is not enough to rely on signage. Order comes through clarity and good design.

Functional considerations

A library must function effectively. The spaces and objects designed must respond primarily to their function and to user requirements. The best way to ensure this is through detailed research with the library staff to gain an understanding of the functions, equipment and tasks to be carried out.


  • the typical circulation of staff and clients
  • the division of front of house and back of house activities
  • the use, borrowing, return and reshelving of items
  • the relationship of activities to the building’s primary elements such as entry, views, daylight/heat load, loading area.
Internal library space with collections and seating
Rockdale Library
Internal view of library with seating and shelving
Internal library space with collections and seating
Carnes Hill Library
Internal library space with collections and seating along windows

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