University of Wisconsin–Madison

Library Space Design in the 21st Century

Library services are evolving quickly, and many times our facilities were not designed to accommodate new service types. This course will provide an overview of trends in library design, outline techniques in assessment of space needs, and present ways to reclaim and reconfigure underused space for new functions. The lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will also be considered. A real-life project in the student’s library will allow the practical application of concepts learned.

At a glance

When: June 14 – July 25, 2021

Cost: $250 (Register 2 weeks early for 10% off!)

CE Credit: 2.0 CEUs/20 LEUs

Program: #303422

Questions? Contact Meredith Lowe or Anna Palmer

Register online

Due to the continuation of remote work, please use the online registration option. If you need alternate arrangements, email Anna Palmer, or Meredith Lowe, Alternate registration options may result in delays.

Login information will be emailed to you a few days before the course begins.

Course details


  • Library space planning overview
  • User experience and Design Thinking as applied to physical spaces
  • Trends in library spaces, including the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Assessment of space needs and existing space
  • Practical application

Expectations: Students will watch/read weekly assignments and participate in online discussions. During the last two weeks, students will choose and assess an existing space in their library and develop a plan for reconfiguration to provide a new or changed service, with online discussion of the process and short description of the final plan.

Weekly Plan

Week 1

  • Introduction
  • UX
  • Design Thinking

Week 2:

  • Trends in library spaces

Week 3:

  • The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on library spaces

Week 4:

  • Assessment of space needs
  • Assessment of existing spaces

Week 5:

  • Choose and assess an existing space

Week 6:

  • Develop a new plan for the space

Instructor: Lauren Stara is a registered architect and former public library director. She has taught courses in library planning and design at two graduate library programs and has presented at library conferences across the US and Canada. She currently works as a Library Building Specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.