What might libraries mean for people?

Future Libraries – What Could They Be?

Cities 13 July 2015 | 11.36am

Libraries are going through a renaissance, both in terms of the social infrastructure they provide and in terms of a diversification of the services and experiences offered. The aim of this research was to identify trends and benchmarks for the future design, operation and function of libraries, both in public and corporate environments.

In corporate environments they are playing an increased role in the provision of collaborate workspace and innovation. In communities they are evolving into hubs for education, health, entertainment and work. These trends include increased efforts by libraries across a range of sectors to bring people back into the physical space. This has resulted in an increase in tangible experiences, including maker spaces and immersive experiences, particularly in public libraries. In addition to changing spatial layout and programmes, the digital environment remains key. The “walls” of a library continue to expand beyond the physical space, with an increase in online resources, social media, crowdsourcing and mobile services having an impact on how collections are accessed online and on the go.

The Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, designed to connect learning with participation and experience. It attracts two million visitors every year.

     The Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, designed to connect learning with 
     participation and experience. It attracts two million visitors every year.

This research seeks to identify the direction and opportunities for the library of the future. It identifies the factors which will impact those organisations which provide library services and those who use and access these services, both physically and digitally. This includes our own organisation. The research will cover changes in spatial design, services offered, customer base, digital experience, and impacts on the people working in libraries and providing the service. New skills for library staff may be required to compliment a shift focus, impacting the education and training of those within the profession.

This report explores some of the key trends shaping the future of public, academic and corporate libraries. It outlines implications on future design, operation and user experience; and suggests what we may expect to see, feel and do in the library of the future.

This report is a product of the Arup University. By investing in tools, skills and people, Arup University helps the firm deliver excellence, foster technical expertise and encourage a unique design culture.

To read Future Libraries please click  here and download the report.


Kim Sherwin

Sydney, Australia

“A Librarian by trade and now working in a dual library and knowledge sharing role. I’m interested in creating innovative ways to encourage people to share their knowledge. I’m also keen to engage people with the library and information in a way that they don’t expect. ”

View all posts by: Kim Sherwin
  • FieldsofActivity

    What do you think Future Libraries will be?

  • Stacey Ryan

    Who thought Libraries could be so damn interesting, adapting and evolving to stay relevant more adventurously than any institution I’ve heard of. Particularly loved the Ferguson Library case study.

  • Stewart Bird

    Libraries still play a huge role in terms of social inclusion, bridging the gap between society’s have and have nots and acting as important hubs for migrants.

    But it is brilliant to see how libraries are now also bridging the digital divide by providing access to technologies that would otherwise be out of reach for many, through maker’s labs with tech such as 3D printers, Raspberry Pis, materials to learn to code etc.

    Libraries are really now equipping people with not only knowledge but also tangible, hands-on skills.