The Significance of a Square Meter

In many cases we are very focused on design, colour, and furniture but what about the functional aspects of the building, the square meters? The elevators? The space for the reference desk? How many square meters do I need for my readings table area?

You can easily get your problems sorted out by reading ISO/TR 11219 Information and documentation – Qualitative conditions and basic statistics for library buildings – Space, function and design. You will learn, among other things, how to apply the formula S = b x c + 0.9 m2 for calculating the space required for a reading area.

Four years of intensive work by an international group of specialists have resulted in this ISO Technical Report. 130 pages and 17 chapters describe all functional aspects of the library building, for all sorts of libraries, in a global perspective and in different climate zones. In Scandinavia a stone floor will be recommended, while in warm countries other types of floor covering will suit better.

The report provides advice focusing on three main topics

1) user areas including user places, reference and information services, lending services, user training, recreation and communication areas, meeting and exhibition areas. The chapter about user places is subdivided into types; there is a subchapter about “places for information and quick consultation” as well as “single places for reading and listening”. Find out about the storytelling lamps in the chapter on the children’s library!

2) library operations spaces in best media processing, bindery, computing and management

3) collection storage areas. You will find formulas for the calculation of shelving as well as all aspects about safe building practice (alt. building safety) such as how to avoid pollutants, deal with moisture or earthquakes and so on. How many degrees Celsius is the best temperature for DVD discs? Sprinkler systems as well as the material content on the shelves are covered in this chapter.

Additional questions concerning security and safety systems, floor loading, transport systems, acoustic conditions, lighting systems and wiring, among other things, are also included in the report.

Several different perspectives of the function of the library are described: the library as a place for quiet study and learning, a meeting point, a place for cultural events and also a community centre that provides for social inclusion of various groups in the population. Essential perspectives are design for all (in the report “barrier-free construction”) and sustainable buildings, how to build ‘green’ for a better climate as well as for lowering operating costs.

Executive Officer National Library of Sweden