Massachusetts Public Library Trustees Handbook
The first step in planning a new building or a major renovation is the development of the Library Building Program Statement. While this document has similarities with a typical architectural Program developed by an architectural firm, the Library Program includes elements not found in that document. The Library Building Program Statement is best written by the library director in cooperation with the trustees, the staff, and the Building Committee. In some instances, a library building consultant may be hired to write the program. This consultant is usually an experienced librarian who has planned and implemented library building projects or has extensive experience as a library consultant. The library's Long Range Plan serves as a source document for the development of a Program.
The elements found in a complete Library Building Program include: an overview of the library's history and a demographic analysis of its community, a physical description of the current library, a detailed analysis of the library's current collection and services, a needs assessment, and a description of a new or renovated library that would adequately serve the needs of the community. This description is composed of space needs projections, descriptions of all major service areas that included seating, furniture, equipment and technology requirements, the spatial relationships among these service areas, general design requirements for effective library service, and charts which provide detailed square footage requirements. A 20 year planning horizon is used in developing the Program requirements.
The Library Building Program articulates the library's vision of its future and serves as a set of instructions to the architect. The architect takes the Program, confirms it through independent investigation, then begins conceptualizing the building that will answer the needs expressed there. Throughout the project, the Program serves as a yardstick to determine how true the design remains to that vision.