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High-performance Library Design

Opening the Book is the only supplier to integrate furniture installation with research, consultancy, staff training and collection planning in one seamless approach. All suppliers seek to deliver an attractive furniture offer for a new library; Opening the Book is the only one to analyse and deliver performance beyond this, judged by success in reaching the library’s target audiences, the performance of its collections and staff enthusiasm for new ways of working. We are experts in achieving higher library performance even when you have reductions in space, in collections or in staff.

Our unique approach

Opening the Book has been commissioned to undertake library space planning by architects, principal contractors, developers and professional bodies as well as by library services.

Our success is based on extensive behavioural research with library customers – we hold a database of 60,000 customer interviews and have supervised 1000+ observations of customer behaviour in libraries in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada. No other supplier takes this research role.

Rachel Van Riel, our Director, is an internationally known speaker and leader in the library world. She has acted as a consultant to government bodies and library management teams in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Australia and spoken at conferences in more than 20 countries. Our library designs are the result of continuous debate at the highest levels of the profession about how to create the best libraries possible. No other supplier of furniture has this background depth of intellect and knowledge.

Functional intelligence combined with great style is what makes our library designs uniquely successful.

Getting the best from your involvement

We have an outstanding track record in raising staff skills, energy and morale over the last 20 years and we bring this to every design project we undertake.

As the largest supplier of workplace training to UK public libraries, we know the challenges that major changes bring for staff and we can help staff to make the transitions necessary to a successful contemporary library service.

The success of the library will ultimately depend on those who work in it; they will be there long after the architects and designers have moved on. Our design process involves both management teams and staff on the ground. Management teams enjoy the debate, the discussion and the creative process we bring while frontline staff and volunteers take huge pride in developing skills to keep the library looking good long after it opens.

Long-term performance

The test of an Opening the Book library is not simply does it open on time and on budget - of course it does. The real test is that it continues to deliver high performance day after day for years to come.

We are here for the long-term. We keep in touch with libraries we have designed and check in to see if everything’s working as planned. We put managers in touch with each other to exchange information and often act as an informal consultancy service on a host of library issues.