What Happens Here

  • Shelving and display of books, CD’s, videos
  • Checkout of materials to borrowers
  • Work areas for preparation of materials to be circulated
  • Storage of documents important to the history of the organization
  • Informal reading areas
  • Study tables

What to Look For

  • What is the main purpose of the library?
▪   Archive
▪   Teaching resource
▪   Outreach resource
▪   Community
  • How visible is the library to passersby?  How does the library’s location seem to affect its usage?
  • How sophisticated is the system for controlling and checking out materials?  How much space does it occupy?
  • What kind of lighting is provided?  Do light levels and character seem appropriate for the way the library is being used?
  • Are there provisions for children?
  •  Is the library used as a conference room or classroom?

Why It Matters

Libraries, like churches, exist in the tension between a desire to protect valuable stuff and the wish to see it widely circulated.  Deciding why you’re building a library will offer important clues about everything from its location and character to display systems, shelving and lighting. 


An archival library tends to be more traditional than other libraries, and values security over access.  Furniture is geared for study.  Artificial light is preferable to natural light.

A library designed to provide resources for teachers and leaders may have a focused collection, and will often balance features of archival and public libraries, hoping to attract users for serious reasons.

Outreach and community libraries meet a social role not unlike café’s and modern commercial bookstores and take their cues on lighting, display and seating from their commercial cousins.

Room x Room posts are brief examinations of the nature, purpose and potential of typical spaces used in ministry. The intent is to help users see and consider how each component contributes to (or hinders) the ministry it serves.