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Tools

Library building calculator

The calculator helps you determine an appropriate size for your library building and includes methods to allocate space to specific service areas.

The calculator includes three sections or tabs - the population calculator, service calculator and renovation calculator.

Download the Library building calculator

Population calculator

The population calculator helps determine a minimum recommended library area based on population. This calculator should be used as a starting point to estimate the minimum recommended library building size for a specific population or catchment for a library branch. Use in conjunction with the Service based library calculator.

The minimum recommended size for a public library building is 190 square metres. It is important to note that a library of this size is only capable of servicing communities of fewer than 2,750 people. 

Download population calculator instructions

To determine a suitable size for your library building you will need to plan for future needs of your community. A key aspect of planning is your projected population. The 10 year projected population is recommended when planning a new library building.

Resident population: enter the ten year projected population forecast for the local catchment of the proposed library. If the projected population is smaller than the current population we would recommend using the current population. Further information on calculating population catchment is below.

Calculating the projected population for your local catchment
There are two key steps in establishing the projected population of a local catchment area:

  • establish the boundaries of the local catchment area
  • source estimates of the projected population for this area 

10 year projections of NSW populations are available through the Projections datasets and Local Government factsheets at the bottom of the NSW Department of Planning - Projections page.

Establish your library catchment area

Single service point in an LGA
If the proposed library is the single service point in your Local Government Area (LGA) then your local catchment area will be the entire Local Government Area and you will need to use the 10 year population projection for the entire Local Government Area.

Multiple service points in one LGA
If your library service has multiple service points in one Local Government Area:

  • begin with the 10 year population projection for the entire LGA
  • calculate the % of the population likely to use each of the branches. The total catchment for the library service must be 100% of the population of the LGA
  • take into account commercial, recreational, industrial and residential concentrations
  • consider any physical barriers that may affect known traffic pathways e.g. river, motorway.

Regional Library Service across multiple LGAs
If your library is a Regional Library Service operating across multiple Local Government Areas:

  • where the branch library is the only service point in an LGA catchment use the 10 year population projection for the entire LGA
  • where there is more than one branch in an LGA refer to multiple service points in one LGA (above)
  • when calculating the Regional Central Library catchment, begin with the 10 year population projection for all of the LGAs and the local catchment for the central library.

Non-resident workforce: you might want to consider non-resident workforce in planning your library size. This is especially important for those libraries that have a large number of non-resident members and library users. Answer yes or no to the question 'do you want to consider the non-resident workforce catchment?' Then add a figure in the 'non-resident workforce' section. If you want to clear your answer to this question click delete on your keyboard.

Central library: some central libraries require a significant work area for collection processing, staff accommodation etc. If you select yes to the question 'is this a central library with significant workroom requirements?' the tool will allocate more space to the total floor area. If you want to clear your answer to this question click delete on your keyboard.

Number of libraries undertaking central library activities: for operational or space reasons your library service might share traditional central library activities across a number of your library branches. If the activities are only at one library (your central library) leave this as one. If activities are undertaken across a number of libraries include the total number in this box.

Whole LGA population: additional space for central library needs will be added to the total library area based on the LGA population if you choose to include it.

Whole LGA non-resident workforce: you might want to consider the non-resident workforce for the whole LGA in planning your library size. This may be important for councils that believe the non-resident workforce has an impact on library service requirements and space.

Service calculator

The service based calculator allows you to tailor your library planning for your community. It will estimate the size of your library based on catchment population, collection size and the type of services and core functions that the proposed library building will include.

Download service calculator instructions

Follow these steps for the service based calculator, to help tailor your library size for community needs and services to be offered.

  • Enter the ten year projected population forecast for the local catchment of the proposed library. For details on calculating the catchment population please see instructions for the population calculator
  • Enter the total collection size and the percentage of collection in different formats. Note the percentages must add up to 100%.
  • When planning a new library it is recommended that you calculate the size of the collection that will meet the needs of the community in the next 10 years. Consider: the standards for collection size in Living Learning Libraries; current and projected annual acquisitions per capita; the layout and display of the collection; community demographics; the size of each collection; the percentage of collections which will be out on loan and potential changes in service requirements.
  • Once you have filled in this top section you can change any figures in the blue shaded areas in the remaining sections of the calculator
Base area

Collection space
The service calculator will determine the space requirement for each format and the collection as a whole. The number of items per format has been calculated based on the collection size and percentages for different formats you have added in the top section. The percentage of items out on loan defaults to 30%, adjust this to reflect your loans. This will adjust the area required to house your library collection based on the amount that is on loan. An estimate or average is fine.

Space allocation for materials
The spreadsheet calculates collection space based on the requirements below.

Format Number of items per square metre
Books  70 to 100
Periodicals 10
non-print material (CDs, DVDs etc) 100
ebooks and eresources 0

Space for shelving  is based on:

  • 4 shelves per bay, for greater accessibility to resources, improved sight lines and a feeling of openness
  • shelving an average of 30 volumes per shelf with a standard shelf being 900 mm long
  • bays of shelving spaced at 1500 mm clear width between aisles
  • bays up to 6 shelves long, maximum of 5400 mm

This configuration gives a module of 14.49 square metres containing on average 1440 volumes. This equates to approximately 100 volumes per square metre of floor area. This is a dense configuration of books and does not allow for face out display. 70 books per square metre or fewer, would be more suitable for face out display.

Computers and personal devices
The minimum recommended number of computers for a population up to 20,000 is 5. For populations above 20,000 the number of computers is calculated at 1 per 3,000 of population. It is recommended that you use the 10 year projected catchment population to calculate the required number of computers. You can add additional computers if required.

If you are planning areas for BYOD you can add the number required as lounge or desk spaces. This is optional.

Add the number of self-check units you are planning for your library.

Reading, seating & study areas

The total recommended number of seats is calculated based on your catchment population. You can change the calculated figure to reflect the number of seats you want to provide. This does not include the computer and BYOD spaces calculated in the Base area section (above).

In the blue section allocate the percentage of seating that will be desk space, lounges and group study. This must total 100%. The calculator will provide you with a recommended floor area for each seating type. You can change the allocation of space in the desired floor area section.

Other functional & service areas

Areas in this section are optional but many would be considered key services to include in a contemporary library building. You will not need to allocate space to each of the service areas. Choose the services that you will be offering in your library building.

The recommended floor area is based on your population. Use this as a starting point to allocate space according to your community needs and planned services.

You will notice that some areas provide a recommended floor area of 0 square metres. This is because they are not services that are offered at the majority of public libraries. Add a figure in the Desired Floor Area if this is a service you plan to provide.

Staff areas

When estimating the staff areas and workspace you will need to consider:

  • current staffing levels
  • Living Learning Libraries standards for staffing
  • projected future staffing requirements
  • individual service area requirements e.g. children’s storage needs, technical services workflows
  • adoption of self service technology
  • RFID workflows and sorting room requirements
  • number and size of service desks
  • volunteers’ workspace requirements
  • central library functions
  • whether collections are purchased shelf ready
  • housebound and mobile collection storage and sorting area

Amenities and ancillary
Amenities and ancillary includes any space required which supports the library but is not specific to a library function. These include areas such as entrances, lifts, public toilets, garbage and recycling, and loading and delivery area. This space requirement will vary significantly across different library services however it is typical for the amenities and facilities space to comprise between 20–30% of functional and service space.

Additional services
These areas provide space for the library’s specific specialist services and programs. Suggested service areas have been provided in the library building calculator however each library service will offer a different range of services and programs and the space requirements for each of these areas will vary across library services.

Some important things to consider when estimating the space required for this are:

  • local community demographics and needs
  • the library’s strategic plan
  • your Council’s strategic and management plan/ future service trends and changes.
Meeting spaces

The State Library recommends that you include meeting spaces in your library. This section allows you to allocate space depending on the types of meeting spaces and training rooms and the number of people you need to accommodate in each room. Different square metres per person will be added for the different types of meeting rooms.

In the blue section enter the number of rooms and number of people per room. The recommended floor area will be calculated below. You can modify the Desired Floor Area if needed.

Some important things to consider when determining the number and size of the meeting rooms to be included in the library building are:

  •  anticipated programs and activities
  •  other available space for children’s activities
  •  technology requirements
  •  other meeting spaces in the community and access requirements

Some additional circulation space separated from the main library and accessible from outside may be required if the library intends to offer these spaces out of hours. Ensure that there is also adequate storage for furniture and equipment.

Once you have filled out all appropriate services the total recommended gross floor area will be calculated at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Renovation calculator

The renovation calculator helps you allocate spaces when you have an existing floor area.

Download renovation calculator instructions

Follow these steps for the renovation calculator.

  • Enter the gross floor area of the building or land that you have available for your library building
  • Add the 10 year projected population catchment of library users
Base area
  • The recommended number of public access computers will be calculated based on the population. You can change this to the number of computers you will provide.
  • Add in the number of spaces for BYOD and self check units. Please note that as you allocate more space to computers and other devices this area is taken away from the base collection area. You do have the option to add additional collection and reading spaces in Other functional & service areas.
  • The recommended square metres are calculated for each service area based on your population. Enter the area that you plan to allocate in the blue section.
  • As you move through the spreadsheet and allocate space to different services the remaining floor area will be calculated at the top of the spreadsheet and the total floor area used will be at the bottom. Modify services and areas until you have allocated all available space.
Reading, seating & study areas 
  • The total recommended number of seats is calculated based on your catchment population. You can change this in the Desired Seats section. 
  • In the blue section allocate the percentage of seating that will be desk space, lounges and group study. This must total 100%.
Other functional & service areas
  • Areas in this section are optional but many would be considered key services to include in a contemporary library building. You will not need to allocate space to each of the service areas. Choose the services that you will be offering in your library building.
  • The recommended floor area is based on your population. Use these as a starting point to allocate space according to your community needs and planned services.
  • You will notice that some areas provide a recommended floor area of 0 square metres. This is because they are not services that are offered at the majority of public libraries. Add a figure in the Desired Floor Area if this is a service you plan to provide.
Meeting spaces
  • The State Library recommends that you include meeting spaces in your library. This section allows you to allocate space depending on the types of meeting spaces and training rooms and the number of people you need to accommodate in each room.  Different square metres per person will be added for the different types of meeting rooms. 
  • In the blue section select the number of rooms and number of people per room.  The recommended floor area will be calculated below. You can modify the Desired Floor Area if needed.

Allocate spaces until the uncommitted floor area at the top of the spreadsheet is 0 and the total at the bottom equals your available floor area.