Design Institute 2021

Join Library Journal for Library Design Online, a reimagination of our long-running, in-person Design Institute program. Whether you're looking to revamp your space or plan for future building/design projects, you'll find ideas, information, and inspiration—no matter your budget!

The second year of our comprehensive online virtual event will feature noted architects and vendors in library design who’ll address design trends, spotlight case studies, and answer pressing questions from the field.

Throughout the day, you’ll engage with experts in library architecture and design through live and pre-recorded webcast sessions. You’ll attend architect-led breakouts featuring design challenges submitted by attendees, and you’ll visit the Virtual Exhibit Hall where you can learn more about service and product offerings for your library. A comprehensive selection of sponsor resources will be available to attendees to ‘take home,’ and the event will be available for on-demand viewing for three months following its live broadcast.

Congratulations to Our Featured Design Challenge Libraries!
The following libraries will have their design challenges workshopped in one of the day’s architect-led breakout sessions.  

Clinton Public Library (Clinton, IA), workshopped by RATIO Design
McConnell Library (Radford, VA) workshopped by Tappè Architects
McKinley Memorial Library (Niles, OH), workshopped by krM Architecture
Natrona County Library (Casper, WY), workshopped by Architectural Nexus
West Chester Public Library (West Chester, PA), workshopped by Opening the Book



All times are US ET (United States Eastern Time)


10:00-10:30 AM ET | 7:00-7:30 AM PST: Visit Architects and Sponsors in the Exhibit Hall

In-Booth Chats

10:00-10:20 AM ET | 7:00-7:20 AM PT
:  Chat with Susan Guindon, Business Development – Open discussion on current library challenges and opportunities. (krM Architecture)
10:00-10:30 AM ET | 7:00-7:30 AM PT: Regenerative Design (Arch Nexus) 

10:30-10:40 AM ET| 7:30-7:40 AM PST: Welcome Address and presentation of The Year in Architecture: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-In-Chief, Library Journal


10:40-11:05 AM ET| 7:40-8:05 AM PST: Keynote: Pam Sandlian-Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries
Anythink Libraries, serving Adams County outside of Denver, CO, is a new style of library.  A place of unlimited imagination, where play inspires creativity and lifelong learning and a community space where anything and everything is possible. Anythink’s Director, Pam Sandlin-Smith, believes that the purpose of libraries is to facilitate lifelong learning, fuel innovation and ensure wellbeing. Library buildings and outdoor spaces can transform into dynamic places that offer valuable opportunities for education, cultural exploration and more. Join Pam for her keynote as she explores creative use of space and explains how it contributes to the library’s community impact.    


11:05-11:45 AM ET| 8:05-8:45 AM PST: Designing for Learning
More and more, communities are looking to libraries as places of learning.  In response, libraries are incorporating learning centers into their designs to serve patrons of all ages, as well as being the host site for continuing education to corporate and community partners. Meeting the educational and social emotional learning needs of a diverse group of learners requires more than maker spaces and multipurpose rooms. In this session, participants will hear about how libraries are creating inspiring and functional spaces that place them at the center of learning in their communities. 


Moderator: Pam Sandlian-Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries

Panelists: Jeffrey M. Hoover, Principal, Tappé Architects, Inc. and Erin Jennings, Associate Partner, krM Architecture


11:50-12:30 PM ET| 8:50-9:30 AM PST: Small Changes for Big Impact 

Today's libraries are being renovated and built to lead communities as models of sustainability. While solar panels and smart HVAC systems save resources for the buildings and their communities, not every library needs (or has the resources) to make major infrastructure changes to realize a more green, sustainable, and energy efficient environment. Staff and patron behavioral changes, and small upgrades to lighting, windows, faucets, and furniture purchases can yield big results. By using buildings as ‘learning labs’, libraries can also help demonstrate the benefits of sustainability to their communities. In this session, our panel of architects will offer insights on how libraries can implement practical and resourceful interventions for big impact. 


Moderator: Matthew Bollerman, Chief Executive Officer, Hauppauge Public Library

Panelists: Jefferey Davis, Senior Principal, Arch Nexus and Dennis Humphries, Principal, Ratio Design


12:30-1:00 PM ET| 9:30-10:00 AM PST: Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

In-Booth Chats

12:30-1:00 PM ET | 9:30-10:00 AM PT
: Library Facilities Planning (Arch Nexus)
12:30-1:00 PM ET | 9:30-10:00 AM PT: Library Learning Environments for kids and families (Tappé Architects)


1:00-2:30 PM ET| 10:00-11:30 AM PST: Concurrent Architect Breakouts  

Join one of five, interactive, architect-led breakout sessions featuring design challenges submitted by our attendees and take away actionable ideas and inspiration to help guide you to your own solutions. Follow-up with the architects in their booths after the break-out to ask them your questions or discuss your own project. 


2:30-3:00 PM ET| 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM PST: Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

In-Booth Chats

2:30-3:00 PM ET | 11:30 AM-12:00 PM PT
: Library Service Model Design Implications (Arch Nexus)
2:30-3:00 PM ET | 11:30 AM-12:00 PM PT: Effective Community Engagement for Design (Tappé Architects)


3:00-3:40 PM ET| 12:00-12:40 PM PST: Designing for Community Development 

Libraries are at the center of their communities and remain the trusted source of information for their patrons. They are also the centers of knowledge on what their communities need in the way of services. Through data analysis, government support, and deep partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and other local organizations, many libraries are designing innovative spaces that support the specific social, cultural and economic needs of their communities, centering them as engines for development.  In this session, we'll hear examples of how libraries identified community needs, connected with partners, established design requirements in order to build tailored spaces and resources, and engaged their communities throughout the process to ensure buy-in. 


Moderator: Honore Bray, Library Director, Missoula Public Library

Panelists: Jeffrey M. Hoover, Principal, Tappé Architects, Inc. and Dennis Humphries, Principal, Ratio Design


3:45-4:25 PM ET| 12:45-1:25 PM PST: Designing for Equity and Inclusion

For the past decade, libraries have been engaging their communities in the process of designing and building or renovating spaces, with much focus given to flexible spaces that can serve the diverse and ever-changing needs of the community.  Today, more intention is being given to equity and inclusion in the design process, with design being used to engage in social justice and impact work, often creatively using materiality, design, and art that reflects the community's people, past and future.  Often working with local partners, libraries are creating spaces that can be more fully owned and used by their communities. In this session, participants will learn more about design strategies and solutions that incorporate community co-creation as a means to engage in equity, justice, and inclusion efforts, and anchor growth in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods.


Moderator: Richard Kong, Director, Skokie Public Library

Panelists: Jefferey Davis, Senior Principal, Arch Nexus and Erin Jennings, Associate Partner, krM Architecture


4:25-5:00 PM ET| 1:25-2:00 PM PST: Visit Architects and Sponsors in the Exhibit Hall

In-Booth Chat
4:25-5:00 PM ET | 1:25-2:00 PM PT
: Library Learning Environments for kids and families (Tappé Architects)


On-Demand Sponsor Sessions available all day starting at 11:00 AM ET | 8:00 AM PT

Arch Nexus | Resiliency and Design
Learn about community resiliency, library resiliency, and an introduction to regenerative design. Also learn about a new method of designing libraries for communities that look at unique community human-centered needs in addition to the data driven historical methods of library facilities planning.

krM Architecture | Spaces that Matter 
Watch a video about our passion for design and helping our clients realize their goals as we advocate for their communities. 

RATIO Design | Best Practices for WELL Library Design
Join us for a session where we will talk about some of the best practices in helping your library become a more sustainable environment. From things to consider in designing a new building to best practices you can apply to your existing library, this session is meant for everyone.

Tappé Architects | Designing for Human Behavior & Community Dynamics
How do we shape environments that encourage people to behave certain ways in certain places? What role does Library Design have on what activities library patrons engage in?

Opening the Book | Revolutionary Library Design     
New library buildings often end up with traditional library interiors. The story of Milton Public Library shows how the shelving layout at the core of every library can be re-imagined to match the building aspirations. Get this right and both footfall and circulation will out-perform all expectations!

Tech Logic | Tech Logic Automation Solutions    
See all the different ways Tech Logic can deliver automation technology solutions to your Library.





Matthew Bollerman is the CEO of the Hauppauge Public Library. Matt previously was Director at the Westhampton Free Library. At Westhampton he helped construct a new $7.8 million LEED Gold building that was recognized by Library Journal in their New Landmark Libraries issue. Named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2020 Matt was also recognized by the New York Library Association with their 2014 Outstanding Service to Libraries Award. Matt is Co-Founder of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative and is currently the American Library Association Sustainability Roundtable Councilor. He is passionate about public libraries' ability to help regenerate their communities.


Honore Bray has been the Director of Missoula Public Library for the past 17 years. During that time MPL planned and built a 108,000 square foot multipurpose library that houses five partnerships to enhance the learning experiences the library has to offer.  Prior to her service at MPL she was the Director of Hearst Free Library, in Anaconda, MT for 10 years.  Teaching Home Economics in Eastern Montana for 18 years lead to her pursuing a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Her dedication to education makes public library work a perfect fit.


Jeffery Lloyd Davis, AIA, LEED ®AP BD+C, is a Library Planner and Designer at Arch Nexus where we believe architecture is about people not buildings. Jeff’s library work includes planning and design within culturally and socio-economically diverse groups of people focusing on a community needs and a human-centered approach. This all leads to an inclusive community outreach and design approach. 


Jeffrey Hoover specializes in programming, planning and design of community environments, as well as master plans and feasibility studies for colleges and universities. Mr. Hoover has been actively involved with architectural conferences and symposiums throughout the country, speaking on: future libraries, historic renovations and additions, and the influence of technology on the practice of architecture. He has been an instructor for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design’s Office of Executive Education, teaching on the Future of Library Design, since 1999.


Dennis Humphries, Principal at RATIO Design, is an award-winning architect and preservationist with over 40 years of experience building communities through design. Having been principal author for over 125 public library projects nationally, he has completed more public library commissions than any other architect in Colorado, where he resides.



Erin Jennings NCIDQ, RID, IIDA, Associate AIA knows that design is just as much about the way something looks as it is about how it functions. Her commitment to that philosophy has yielded the award-winning designs of numerous academic and public library projects. Her design efforts are motivated by a desire to create conscious impact on the end-user experience. Community environments are the spaces in which Erin’s leadership skills and her multi-disciplinary approach have had the most positive influence on the greatest number of people. She holds a dual Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Interior Design from Ball State University and a Master of Architecture from SUNY Buffalo.  Erin also serves as an Adjunct Instructor of Interior Design for the College of Architecture & Planning at Ball State.



Richard Kong is the director of Skokie Public Library, an award-winning institution that serves a diverse population of 65,000 just north of Chicago, Illinois. He contributes actively to the library profession at both state and national levels, and has served on the boards of both Illinois Library Association and Public Library Association. He recently led the library through a $17.7 million renovation project of its interior public spaces.



Meredith Schwartz, Editor-In-Chief, Library Journal  


Pam Sandlian-Smith is the Executive Director of Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado, just north of Denver. Through her leadership, the public library system went from being the worst funded system in the state of Colorado to one of the most recognized library brands nationwide by creating an entirely new service model. The library team designed and built and opened four new libraries and renovated three branches over a four-year timeframe. Anythink was awarded the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and the 2011 John Cotton Dana Award for Outstanding Public Relations. Pam was the 2010 Colorado Librarian of the Year and the recipient of the 2012 Charlie Robinson Award for innovation and risk taking. Through her speaking and writing, Sandlian Smith stimulates discussions on innovation, creativity and participation in libraries worldwide.




Gold Sponsors



Silver Sponsors


Booth Sponsors




Breakout Challenges

Clinton Public Library, Clinton, IA
Architect: RATIO Design

With a new building project on the horizon and the potential to renovate a 1904 Carnegie Library, the Clinton Public Library is looking to expand into 42,000 square feet from its current 19,600 square feet during their concept development phase. The current Carnegie building lacks accessible routes into the building and can be difficult to navigate across the 3 levels, with only some wheelchair accessible spaces. Currently, the library features only one accessible restroom that is not fully ADA compliant. The building, serving a community of 24,469 in the city and additional county residents in central western Illinois, is expensive to maintain and inefficient in its energy consumption. 

McConnell Library, Radford, VA
Architect: Tappè Architects, Inc.

With a footprint consisting of three existing structures built over multiple decades, the McConnell Library serves Radford University's 10,000 students, many of whom are first-generation college attendees in a primarily rural setting. The building's interior features a variety of services providing support for students from campus units as well as the library. Collections and services are not co-located, spread across multiple floors. Some, but not all, of the floors can hold collections. Librarians and staff, particularly for Special Collections, are not close to the communities they serve, their collections, or their department managers. An underutilized atrium offers an opportunity to reimagine a gathering space for events or activities, currently missing in the building's program. A potential renovation could re-imagine where services, collections, and employees are located to best serve the campus, offer more events and gathering space, and address much-needed infrastructure improvements to address heating and cooling issues and leaks.

McKinley Memorial Library, Niles, OH
Architect: krM Architecture

Engaged in a strategic planning effort, the McKinley Memorial Library is looking to address accessibility issues and space constraints present throughout its 16,260 square foot building. Built in 1917 and last renovated in 1985, the library lacks an elevator for community members and library employees to easily navigate between its collections on the upper floors of the building, and processing and service areas on the lower levels. The city of 19,000 could also use spaces in the library to meet, host a children's and teens area, and to study. 

Natrona County Library, Casper, WY
Architect: Arch Nexus
Redefining Flexibility: Trends Beyond 21st Century Libraries

Reimagine how flexible your library can be by identifying how current and future library trends intersect with the uniqueness of your community. Then . . . find out how such trends can co-exist in the same spaces and adapt to the changing needs of your community. We are collaborating with the Natrona County Library in Casper Wyoming and using their opportunity to build a new 75,000 SF Library in their downtown as a catalyst for helping all librarians learn how to implement these tools into their library. This will be a workshop focused on a human-centered community approach to identifying which programs and services are right for your library and how you can design for optimal use of the library spaces.

West Chester Public Library, West Chester, PA
Furniture & Design Company: Opening the Book

In a visioning stage to redesign the library's first floor and lower level, the West Chester Public Library aims to redesign traffic flow and layout to enhance the customer experience and make it easier for staff to serve their community. The historic building, built in 1888 and renovated last in 2004, does not adequately meet the community's needs or the library's vision to serve as a community hub. Prioritizing flexible workspace options for members to read, study, and meet, the library aims to improve the service to its 58,000 residents of the 6 municipality Chester County Library System by making better use of the space and creating a more welcoming first impression. The renovation would honor the historic nature of the building, which features an original, hand-carved staircase, but is excited to relocate existing service points like the information desk, to create a more functional and flexible user experience.


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