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Check list for new library buildings

Download the Checklist for new library buildings [PDF 113KB]

You have the go-ahead to build a new library facility. Before the panic sets in, here is a check list to help you get started with the planning and to help steer your way through till opening day and beyond.


  • Find out how the library building relates to your long-term community plan.
  • Check out Department Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience’s local government grants and subsidies.
  • Read the Standards and Guidelines for Queensland Public Libraries.
  • Check out the mandatory requirements – factor in 10-year population growth; be aware of minimum floor space requirements – are you building a main library or a branch library?
  • Check out State Library’s library building and design pages on website.
  • Gather as much information at the local level before proceeding further.
  • Conduct a community survey – what are its needs? – How can they be met in the new library design
  • Consult widely across the community – Indigenous and multicultural groups/schools/rate payers/community groups. Conduct focus groups.
  • Complete an audit of your community’s facilities – what is missing? Can the new library building help fill the gaps?
  • Plan for a meeting room/s with external after-hours access.
  • Think of the library as the “Community’s Living Room”, or the “Community Hub”.


  • Where is the best place in town for the new library? Keep it central but keep in mind the parking requirements.
  • Ensure easy access including disabled access.
  • Is the library best positioned with another Council or community facility – e.g. Tourism office/Art Gallery/Museum/Heritage building/Rural Transaction Centre/Education centre/ Health centre/Post Office/CafĂ©, etc.


  • Conduct research into the latest ideas on library building design.
  • Plan physical visits to newly built libraries – contact Regional Partnerships, State Library of Queensland for suggestions. This is critical to the success of your new library. Learn from the experience of others!
  • Check out State Library of New South Wales’ library building and spaces pages
  • Develop a ‘wish list’ for the new library – identify the ‘must haves’ from the ‘would likes’.
  • Design for flexibility, rearrangement of internal spaces and expansion.
  • What are the givens in the new design? e.g. adequate display space, adequate room for internet terminals, installation of self-checkout machines, reading areas, young people’s spaces; community meeting rooms, staff meeting rooms and facilities.
  • Consult extensively with the library manager and library staff – find out their needs.
  • What works and doesn’t work in the current premises?
  • Discuss how the current design can be improved in the new building. Don’t forget the library staff and the community have to work with the finished product!
  • Choose your architects wisely – do they have previous library design experience or have you seen their recent designs?
  • Include the interior design in the architect’s brief – don’t skimp on the ‘interiors’ essentials of shelving, layout, colours, natural lighting and signage.
  • Investigate funky furniture and design concepts, especially in the young people’s and children’s areas.
  • Don’t forget the landscaping – include an outdoor reading/children’s activities area.
  • Allow the architects to take a holistic approach – you won’t be disappointed
  • Do you need to relocate the current library while the new facility is built?
  • Build in a contingency plan for temporary premises and allow for cost overruns - you never know when another Cyclone Larry is going to appear!


  • Plan for the opening day from the start – make it a real community celebration!
  • Is the opening to be on a weekday or a weekend – what is the best time for your community to gather?
  • Who will open your new facility? Ensure they are available well ahead of time.
  • Don’t forget to invite the whole community – schools, community groups, youth groups, retired citizens, etc.
  • Invite the school and/or community band to play at the opening.
  • What exhibitions, displays are required?
  • Do you have a local history collection or local historian to draw on – don’t forget the resources of State Library’s Queensland Memory Collections.

Planning for the future

  • Plan for a refurbishment within 5 years – include it in the library’s strategic plan.
  • Keep in touch with new library developments.
  • Always visit other libraries when the opportunity arises (especially when on holidays).

Most of all

  • Make the new facility a showpiece for your community – the building should be environmentally sustainable.
  • Ensure the end result compliments its surroundings.
  • Be adventurous and bold in the planning.
  • Make the most of a once–in-your-working-lifetime opportunity to get it right for your community!


If you have any questions about library buildings, please contact Regional Partnerships, State Library of Queensland on (07) 3842 9049.

Last updated
25th October 2016