Call for Papers

Library Buildings and Equipment Section
& Information Technology Section

The Effect of Technologies on Library Design: building the 21st century library



10-11 August 2011


Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Technology provides a tool for the delivery of library service. Technology also shapes and limits how service can be delivered. The effective library building supports changing service patterns, changing modes of service delivery, and changing technological applications.

The IFLA Standing Committee on Library Buildings and Equipment, with the support of the Information Technology Standing Committee, offers this satellite workshop in advance of the 2011 IFLA World Library and Information Congress to explore the ways technology impacts library service today, and, more specifically, how our buildings have responded to those changes in recent projects and how our buildings will have to designed to respond to future changes.

Sessions will be organized around the following topics:

Impact of technology in support of library operations

New operational patterns such as self-service circulation, automated materials handling, mobile staff service desks, and automated materials dispensing kiosks are changing how basic library work routines occur.

  • How have service patterns changed in light of these new operations?
  • What new requirements are placed on the library building as a result of these new patterns of operation?
  • What further changes in the physical building can we expect as a result of new operational technologies?

Impact of technology for patron use 

Patrons come to the library to use a variety of up-to-date technology. Today, their expectations often extend beyond information-seeking. Increasingly, library users want to generate electronic content in production labs and other similar spaces. In addition, library users are bringing their own technology into the library. Although devices such as e-book readers are hardly “new” anymore, the impact of such devices on library service continues to evolve.

  • How have these technologies affected library service patterns?
  • What new service patterns (such as media production labs) are starting to emerge?
  • What is the latest thinking about how these patterns will continue to evolve?
  • How does building design and layout have to change to support these changes?
  • What new design strategies and building products are available to accommodate these new patterns of use?

Shifting user expectations

A new generation of users brings to the library a new set of expectations for service.  “Digital natives” – young people who have had electronic access to information their entire lives – arguably approach e-resources differently than older “digital migrants.” At the same time, as segments of the population grow older, their expectations of what they want from the library – and their physical capabilities – change. The library building must respond.

  • How do we provide new types of spaces and facilities that enable users to co-operate face-to-face on site while integrating their electronic workspace in a collaborative manner – physical spaces (and often space-intensive ones) where users can work together virtually and which are conducive to relaxation, communication and debate?
  • How do “digital natives” differ from “digital migrants” in their approach to the library?
  • How do library service strategies change as a result and what strategies must be employed in library design?
  • How can the library building accommodate those variations?

Beyond technology

The availability of electronic access to information prompts some members in the community to declare the library is obsolete. In fact, there is abundant evidence that any such declaration is premature. Just as the library has long been more than just books, today it is about more than just technology. Still, while they have incorporated technology into their services, libraries have also expanded into other areas and services. Some libraries, for example, have become community gathering places and centers for programs and activities. All of these changes also affect a library’s building needs.

  • What additional service patterns have emerged in libraries, as a result of or in parallel with the adoption of electronic services?
  • What requirements have these additional service patterns imposed on library design?

A new library for the 21st century

For the last ten years, we have designed “libraries for the 21st century,” but all too many of them have looked more like a 20th century library with a new cover. This session will explore:

  • How does a 21st century library building differ from a 20th century library building?
  • How does a 21st century library building successfully blend traditional service with
  • newer patterns of use?
  • What design aspects in the building reflect a 21st century library?

Presentation of case studies is encouraged to highlight recently constructed or remodeled libraries that model traits of what a 21st century library could be. 

The IFLA Standing Committee on Library Buildings and Equipment welcomes submission of abstracts from prospective presenters regarding each of these topics. From among the abstracts received 3-5 papers on each topic will be selected for presentation at the satellite meeting. Papers may describe recent projects that have successfully emulated the themes discussed above. Papers may also offer a more speculative viewpoint, with forecasts of how libraries and their services will evolve to meet future needs of the community and how library buildings will need to change as a result.

The abstract should include a brief description (2-3 paragraphs) of themes to be presented in the full paper. Provide a short summary of the credentials of the speaker(s), as well as contact information for the primary presenter (name, institution, address, and email).

Submit program proposals electronically to:

Anders C. Dahlgren
Library Planning Associates, Inc.
Normal, IL 61761 U.S.A.

Abstracts should be received by March 1, 2011. Papers will be selected for presentation by March 18, 2011. Participants selected for the satellite meeting will be expected to submit the full text of the presentation by June 1, 2011. Accompanying PowerPoint files will be submitted by July 1, 2011 for posting on the web page of the IFLA Standing Committee on Library Buildings and Equipment for program registrants in advance of the conference.


All proposals must be in before 1 March 2011.

Please note

All expenses, including registration for the conference, travel, accommodation etc., are the responsibility of the authors/presenters. No financial support can be provided by IFLA, but a special invitation can be issued to authors.

Congress Attendance Grants

The Puerto Rico National Committee and IFLA have worked hard to secure funds for Conference Participation Grants. Please check our Conference Participation Grants webpage for the most up-to-date information.

Last update: 11 February 2011