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Unleash your library's full potential

Opening the Book's experienced designers provide space planning and design services for all sizes of libraries. From quick advice to feasibility studies to full installations, we can help you make the most of your options and persuade others of the benefits of including a library.

Planning a project? Contact us

Architects & Contractors

Opening the Book brings a new approach to interior library design which harmonises the interior layout with the shapes and volumes of the architecture. We work to maximise architectural features and play to the strengths of the building. Our research on people flow supports the creation of discovery layouts which ensure that the whole space is dynamic and well-used.

We work with Design Teams to integrate interior design into the RIBA Plan of Work. Our knowledge of library operational requirements is invaluable at the planning stage and we are also flexible in adapting designs, for example, to M & E constraints. As consultants, we have supplied feasibility studies to plan libraries in new build spaces and to adapt other buildings to house libraries. And when it comes to installation, you can rely on our team for superb project management, manufacture and fitting – every one of our library projects has been delivered on time and on budget.

Discovery layouts

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