By Denny Hammack
Suggest going to a local library, and you will see two generations of people reacting differently to these repositories of learning, knowledge, and entertainment. The older generation will talk about the books they borrowed — likely checking to see the due dates of their current stack so they don’t have to pay the library fines. The newer generation will be tapping on their electronic devices to download the latest e-books, audio books or videos.
Libraries are evolving to face the growing 21st-century challenges of satisfying the needs of people who are used to holding a physical book while enticing new members through online means. Yet with massive budget cuts leading to branch closures and limiting services across the nation, libraries are re-inventing themselves to become digital literacy portals and interactive teaching spaces, requiring smart facility management to stay alive.
Turning Libraries Into Efficient Entertainment And Learning Spaces
Relying on dwindling resources and budgetary funds, libraries have to become creative with their spaces. They are implementing new technologies such as computer clusters allowing people who do not have access to the Internet at home to surf the Web, download information, upload resume data during job searches, and interact on social media. Libraries are also instituting maker spaces and programs where the community can teach skills that require hands-on interaction.
However, these computer clusters and maker spaces require annexes and other free space to operate. Librarians must move bookcases to produce these free areas. With libraries able to hold millions of books and constantly adding new books to their shelves annually, the staff must organize the space effectively to create the optimal user experience for everyone.
Facility management principles involve streamlining what space is available to make the building more operational for users, while reducing wasted spaces by using the right cost-effective improvements. Several solutions that libraries have sought are better storage and display systems. Utilizing high-density storage systems as well as mobile bay shelving, libraries can implement better organization.
Storage Solutions Reducing Wasted Vertical Space
Vertical space is an abundance in library buildings, allowing for rows of shelving that can stretch upward to hold books, print media, videos etc. Libraries can increase their organizational methods and retrieval of this media on demand, allowing them to have the right amount of book storage without taking away available building space. Storage units also allow for a variety of different functions depending on how often the materials are in use and the types of retrieval methods that will be implemented.
The second popular storage solution is utilizing mobile storage units that give staff more layout options for aisles, shelves and seating areas. These storage systems can be easily shifted and moved so staff do not have to strain themselves to reach materials or place library users in harm’s way. With easy retrieval methods, reading materials and other print media can be obtained while the shelves can accommodate more materials, if needed, for maker spaces and other library programs.
Seeking Smart Solutions With Limited Space
Libraries are evolving in the way they present programs, activities, and reading materials to the public. These buildings can still house billions of books while providing modern technologies. By adopting better storage solutions, libraries can continue to exist for everyone’s enjoyment.
With over 25 years of storage industry experience, Denny Hammack is a seasoned CEO of Patterson Pope, an industry leading supplier of high density shelving products & solutions.