How to Get Library Design Inspiration: 6 Places to Visit

How to Get Library Design Inspiration: 6 Places to Visit | Many people think that the main place to get ideas for library space design is in other school libraries. However, we have much to learn from other types of learning environments. Here, I suggest six places for getting library design inspiration. @DianaLRendina

Library Design Inspiration: How to Find it

When rethinking and redesigning our library spaces, many of us tend to focus on looking at other school libraries for ideas and inspiration.  However, there’s quite a few other learning environments and resources we should consider when planning our spaces.  Some are more traditional than others, but all of them deserve consideration as we look to ways to change and update our libraries, classrooms, and learning spaces to make them work better for our students.

Seattle Public Library - Children's Floor

I think that I could pretty much live in the Children’s Area of the Seattle Public Library.

Public & Academic Libraries

Both public and academic libraries are excellent sources for library design inspiration.  Even though they don’t always serve the exact same range of patrons that we do or support the same programs, there’s far more commonalities than differences between us.  Academic libraries tend to focus heavily on collaboration between students.  They also tend to excel in finding ways to keep student devices charged, since pretty much every college student has a laptop nowadays.

Public libraries often have excellent signage and good branding strategies.  While we might not have the same budgets that they do, we can definitely take some ideas away when we look at the design, decor, and organization of their spaces.  Bonus: visit the children’s and teen’s sections; public libraries are often on the pulse of what works well for these age groups.

Columbus Musuem of Art - JP Morgan Chase Center for Creativity

The Columbus Museum of Art is one of my favorite places ever. Everything encourages interaction.


Museums have long been designed for informal education, so they naturally provide amazing ideas for rethinking our library spaces.  I’ve gotten ideas in art museums, children’s museums, science museums and more.  Look for ideas on how to create interactive spaces and displays.  Look at group learning areas and observe patrons interacting with one another.  Think about ways that you could replicate these concepts within your school.

Lockhart Elementary Classroom

This elementary school classroom helped inspire our library makeover in 2014.

Classrooms (And Other School Spaces)

Whenever I visit another school, the first place I want to visit is the library.  But sometimes, there might be other amazing learning spaces hidden away in other parts of the school.  Visit innovative classrooms, common areas and other parts of schools.  When a school is designed in an innovative, forward thinking way, every space can be an inspiration.

Public/Private Makerspaces

Makerspaces outside of schools are learning environments generally geared towards adults, but that doesn’t mean the ideas can’t work for the younger set.  Look at how they organize their workspaces.  How they provide power.  How they create access to resources.  How members can store in-progress projects.  What elements they use to inspire ideas.  There’s a plethora of ideas you can find in makerspaces, even if you don’t have a makerspace in your library yet.

Learning Space Pinterest board

Learning Space Design? I’ve got a board for that 🙂


Okay, so technically Pinterest isn’t a physical space.  But visiting Pinterest allows you to “visit” places that you might never be able to see otherwise.  I’ve gotten SO MANY IDEAS for our library from Pinterest, including the original inspiration for our Epic LEGO Wall.  I’ve been saving ideas on my Library and Learning Space Design Pinterest Board, so go check it out to get some inspiration for your library space.

Street art in Philadelphia

You can find inspiration for your learning space anywhere


This might seem like cheating, but I don’t think it is.  Be on the lookout for inspiration anywhere.  Walking along the sidewalk.  Children at a playground.  A group reading together in a bookstore.  Even the layout of your favorite place to shop in the mall.  Any place, anywhere can provide library design inspiration.  You just have to be on the lookout for it.

Be on the lookout anywhere & everywhere for library design inspiration. Click To Tweet

What’s been your most unusual place to find inspiration for changing your space?  Tell me in the comments.

Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog She was a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest from 2015-2018. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.


  1. Becky Calzada : April 25, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I’ve found library design inspiration at airports and restaurants. And when I do, I pull out my phone and take a picture. These inspiration pics are helpful when I meet with architects when we discuss implementing key ideas within our library spaces.

  2. James Clarke : June 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Starbucks – somewhere students love to study
    and Watestones – who know how to entice you in to enjoy a good read

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