Library Consultations

Kevin Hennah has extensive experience in the design, refurbishment and reinvigoration of libraries

Depending on needs, he can provide big-picture planning advice, detailed recommendations for refurbishment or simply an injection of fresh ideas to makeover your library on a limited budget.

Based on the scope of your project, a typical consultation might explore:

Layout and management of traffic flow

Innovative seating solutions

Detailed and specific advice on shelving and integration of technology

Techniques to maximise productivity of space

Creation of independent and collaborative workspaces

Contemporary display and marketing strategies

Development of innovative visual merchandising strategies for print

Specifications for interior décor

Suggestions for suppliers who may maximise impact within budget


Library specific signage solutions

Key considerations when writing an architects design brief

Onsite Full Day Consultation

(9.00am – 3.30pm) A full day is recommended for new libraries, those renovating, planning new shelving, a new layout or a full makeover. A full day generally allows time to prepare summary notes (most libraries prefer this option)

Onsite Half Day Consultation

(3.5 hours) Sufficient to explore a specific need such as seating, décor, signage or a mini-makeover.

Remote Consultation

After discussing your needs and objectives, Kevin simply requires photographs and/or floor plan, to generate detailed recommendations. His written report is reinforced with photographs to demonstrate ideas visually and followed up with an online meeting to discuss recommendations and implementation in detail. Time requirements and fees are based on individual needs.

What to Expect

Each consult starts with a discussion about what you wish to achieve. Following this, Kevin will tour the library and generate specific recommendations. He then shows photographs to demonstrate ideas visually. The second half of a full day meeting is generally used to plan detail, document recommendations and create and an action plan to hand over at the end of the day.

Major Design Projects

Time requirements for larger-scale projects can be discussed on a needs basis.

Within Australia

With regular interstate trips scheduled, Kevin is able to offer a fee structure that is inclusive of all travel related expenses. Contact Kevin for information on when he will next be in your region, or to coordinate a date that meets your needs.

Outside Australia

Kevin travels regularly to The USA, The UAE, Europe and Asia. Where possible, linking projects together to reduces travel costs. Contact him direct to discuss your needs, dates and fee structure.

Please contact Kevin Hennah to confirm fees, availability and to make bookings.

Kevin’s thoughts

Many libraries have failed to develop a visual merchandising strategy to help print compete with new technologies and usage stats have suffered as a result. It’s easy to attribute the downturn in loans to new technologies, but I’d suggest that  the visual merchandising strategy in many libraries plays an equal role.

If a book retailer were to adopt the ideas applied in many libraries they’d go broke!

Technology is constantly evolving and for the most part this is driven by external influences;  constant software updates,  maintaining current hardware. But who drives innovation in the  display and marketing of physical resources?  This must happen at ground level, within each library. Defaulting to traditional ideas has long lost relevance.

In the design and renovation process, much effort is invested in architecture and interior design. Of course this is  important, however it is easy to unknowingly  create a contemporary veneer around traditional and outdated ideas. A impressive library is not just architecture and decor – that’s an impressive building. An impressive library should be measured by what you achieve with collection and the unique people spaces you create.

In education, I have met with countless people who question whether Non Fiction (in print) has lost relevance. These schools have keep abreast of developments in technology over the past 20 years. However, during this time, the faded, poorly weeded Non Fiction collection has remained on tall, dated shelving arranged in narrow isles to the rear of the room.

Rarely is a book displayed face-out and little or no innovative signage solutions have been developed to help print compete with online resources. There’s really no more they could have done to make the collection look less appealing!

It’s probably timely to emphasise that I am a keen supporter of online resources and new technologies, as well as proactive weeding of the print collection. However,  we cannot make an informed judgment on the potential of books until we create a level playing ground between print and new technologies.

I am concerned about some Public Libraries that rely heavily on the Internet to maintain customer numbers. Free access is no longer a point of difference in many communities, so the strategy is loosing relevance.

Whilst many Public Libraries enjoy strong  usage stats from DVD, they too will inevitably loose appeal due to improved and cheaper streaming. Now is the time to nurture other other parts of the product offering to fill the void that will inevitably be created.

A contemporary library should be set up as the community’s shared living room – cleverly selected furniture is at  the foundation of this advice.

Use seating as a marketing tool by creating innovative spaces for meetings, independent and collaborative work and leisure. In education,  using seating to create  a point of difference over classrooms is fundamental to maintaining relevance.

When building or renovating Public Libraries, consider opportunities to benefit from traffic generated by council services that share the building. Become a destination. If deemed viable, incorporate a café, art space, garden area or small business incubator into new branches.

Attracting a younger audience into Public Libraries is too complex to address in a paragraph. I must however stress that image drives perception and the solution is much bigger picture than simply creating a teen zone – a concept I find quite dated. The marketing strategy, resources and overall image need to be relevant.

In education, I have observed many libraries renamed Learning Commons or alike as a strategy to remain relevant. This often comes without significant cultural change. In most instances, I see this name change as an example of not ‘walking the talk’.

I’m a change advocate, though I don’t see any value in throwing away the Library brand. The concept of a library is not dated –  phenomenally successful, Netflix is a library!

Investing in RFID and self-check technology and maintaining a traditional style circulation desk alongside new technology is almost like saying “don’t bother” to the customer.

I believe there should be a level of uniformity across a library network. Particularly a Public Library Service. l support tailoring the design, décor and collection to branch-based demographic.

Take a uniform approach to all signage and print collateral. It not only looks professional, but also helps build presence in the community and reinforces a group of libraries work together. This is a fundamental principal of marketing and promotion.

I understand there is more to a library than loan stats, however it is important not to discount the relevance of these as a benchmark. To this end, I ask all libraries, “what would you change about your library if you were to receive a dollar in your personal bank account for every item borrowed”?

Frequently, I note the implementation of Maker Spaces in libraries is less impressive than the colourful words that surround it’s description.

I am more excited by the Making initiatives that can be put in place than the compartmentalised approach to creating the physical space.

Never allow a lack of funding to hold you back as you do not need to spend a lot to make a difference!