Designing for a Flexible Future

Course Description: 

In March 2020, libraries across the country had to quickly shut down buildings and services as a public safety precaution. While some have re-opened to limited offerings, many are looking to what’s next. As public spaces, libraries must continue to adapt to new futures that prioritize safe interaction and well-being. This new design workshop and guest speaker program from Library Journal and School Library Journal explores how to create library spaces with flexibility in mind for today’s needs and tomorrow’s opportunities in a post-Covid era. Experts will discuss the short- and long-term modifications libraries can make in their spaces to support community needs, from changes in furniture choice and layout to how meeting rooms, outdoor spaces, and creation spaces are designed and used. Join us to learn ways to reimagine your spaces so that they can be quickly adapted to meet the current and future needs or your library and patrons.


By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

You’ll Learn How To: 

  • Embrace responsive design to address demand and changing circumstances

  • Adapted or re-imagined existing spaces to offer a variety of programming activities and uses

  • Build safe, healthy environments that support individuals’ overall well-being Understand how to make decisions about furniture and layouts that support different modes of working and interacting

  • Identify short- and long-term strategies and interventions to provide safe and meaningful services

  • Create a roadmap for your own library’s approach to post-Covid spaces, services, and uses

  • Design inspiring and productive physical spaces by understanding large-scale trends

Online course features:

  • Instructor-led online course features personalized interaction over 3+ weeks Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available afterward)

  • Project-based homework assignments to help you make progress on your goals Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help sort out challenges

  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums

  • Articles, videos, and other resources

  • Access all course content for 6 months after the course ends

  • Bonus: Get access to past speaker session recordings to supplement your learning

Who should take this course:

  • Library administrators or decision-makers seeking to understand what investments to make to their library spaces post-Covid and how to put them into action.

  • Library staff and administrators looking for actionable ideas for reworking their current spaces for safety, adaptability and multi-use.

  • Library staff seeking to identify opportunities for changes to their spaces based on health, safety, and overall well-being.

Certificate of Completion Provided

Discounted group rates available

Have a team attend and increase your impact!

Please contact us at to learn more about our discounted rates.

Also Available On-Demand!

Can’t make a live session? All sessions will be available to you “on-demand” following the initial broadcast.


By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Week 1: Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 2-4 pm ET

Session 1 | 2:00-2:15 pm ET

Developing Practical and Strategic Designs
In this introduction to our course, you’ll learn about the differences between short-term practical and long-term strategic approaches to library design in response to planned and unplanned events like the Covid-19 pandemic. You’ll see how to apply these approaches to your library’s context, and how to balance the two to continue to safely engage your community, now and into the future, and support your staff along the way.
Speaker: Emily Puckett Rodgers, Space Design and Assessment Librarian, University of Michigan Library (MI)

Session 2 | 2:15-3:00 pm ET

Responsive Design
It’s more important than ever to equip our libraries with spaces that can be quickly and easily reconfigured to address density, ad-hoc (or pop up) services, and public health informed controls (e.g. spacing). In this session, you’ll learn about the components of design functions and features that speak to changes in your community both now and in the future. We’ll discuss furniture choices as well as layout design in this session with a
design expert.
Speaker: To be announced soon

Intermission | 3:00-3:15 pm ET

Session 3 | 3:15-4:00 pm ET

Healthy Environments: Centering the Senses
Libraries will continue to play an important role in fostering and supporting the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities in a post-pandemic world. In this session, we’ll consider all the senses when thinking of health and well-being (sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste/breathing) and what you can do to ensure your library is providing the safest environment possible for your patrons. We’ll discuss the use of HVAC systems, and other health protocols in this session.
Speaker: Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist at Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Week 2: Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 2-4 pm ET

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Boundless Libraries: Maximizing Outdoor Spaces
As libraries have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, creative temporary space takeovers have been instrumental in helping ensure continuity of service. In this session, you’ll learn how libraries can continue to capitalize on their existing outdoor spaces, whether they are parking lots, gardens or plazas, and expand their offerings to meet the immediate needs of their communities.
Speaker: To be announced soon

Intermission | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

Session 2 | 3:00-3:45 pm ET

Creating and Engaging: Activity and Meeting Rooms
In this session, we’ll discuss how you can revitalize your library’s activity and meeting rooms and spaces and transform them into collaborative centers of activity that address emerging needs. Clever meeting room design can open up possibilities for community engagement by creating hubs for hybrid workers and more. You’ll learn how to move beyond meeting rooms as spaces for one-off programs, and turn them into flexible mainstays of
your community.
Speaker: Ruth Baleiko, FAIA, Partner, The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP

Week 3: Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 2-4 pm ET

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Boundless Libraries: Future-Forward Design and Uses
In this session, you’ll learn how, through design investments and creative changes to your layout, furniture, or configurations, your library can expand your pop-up and stop-gap design changes into long-term, flexible benefits for your community. You’ll also see examples illustrating how you can repurpose and invest in space previously used for short-term needs, like parking lots and meeting spaces, and more, for more permanent but
agile activities.
Speaker: Peter J. Bolek, AIA , President of HBM Architects, LLC

Intermission | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

Session 2 | 3:00-3:45 pm ET

Closing Keynote: Wellness and the Future of Design
Imagine libraries as sites of robust community wellness. In the age of a pandemic, it’s vital for library design to take not just physical, but social-emotional wellness into account. In this session, you’ll learn how to take into consideration color, lighting, sound, vistas, and patterns of movement through your spaces to create spaces that can calm, energize, or otherwise support your diverse communities.
Speaker: Jeff Davis, Principal, Architectural Nexus

Ruth Baleiko, FAIA, Partner, The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP

Peter J. Bolek, AIA , President of HBM Architects, LLC

Jeff Davis, Principal, Architectural Nexus

Emily Puckett Rodgers

Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist at Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners




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