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Discovery Layouts

Our discovery layouts bring 'wow' factor into any library space. Banish dull rows of shelves and desks and open up your space with curves and angles.

At Opening the Book, we have studied the way people move through library spaces, which way they turn, how far they go, where they stop. We have built a unique bank of research carried out in libraries in different countries, including thousands of observations of patron behaviors and a database of more than 50,000 library patron interviews. We apply this knowledge in our designs to ensure there are no dead spaces or tight corridors of shelving. Instead our layouts offer smooth organic flows which entice people forward with a continuous sense of exploration and discovery.

These comparisons use exactly the same number of bookcases, study desks and soft seats in the traditional layout and the Opening the Book discovery layout. There is no loss of capacity – just a big increase in appeal and engagement.

Opening the Book discovery layout

Traditional layout

Opening the Book high school discovery layout

High school traditional layout

Traditional and discovery: the differences

Traditional layout

Discovery layout

  • Regimented rows can look intimidating
  • Tempting first impression
  • Customer journey is short and functional
  • Customer journey is varied and interesting
  • Straight rows offer no enticement
  • Curves create browsing spaces and draw people forward
  • Book stacks are dense while desks are boring, no encouragement to explore
  • Open and inviting layout - no dead ends or corridors
  • Books are hidden and appeal only to the 25% purposive users rather than the 75% impulsive
  • Integrate shelving and social areas so books are in the eyeline wherever you sit
  • Traditional desks reinforce impression of a formal environment
  • Curved desks are less formal than a classroom
  • Problem of noise in the open desk area as people speak louder to be heard over neighbours
  • Noise is reduced as desks are split up plus bookcases absorb sound
  • No differentiation – everything is uniform
  • Easy to zone for different ages/activities
  • Open social areas are busy while shelving areas are empty and dead
  • Every part of the space gets visited and used