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Promote Pupil Engagement with Intelligent Library Design

Creating an environment which promotes pupil engagement can significantly improve their literacy skills and mathematical ability

Posted by Nick Valentine | March 04, 2015 | Facilities & buildings

Results from the British Cohort Study which followed the lives of more than 170,000 Britons demonstrated the importance of cultivating a love of reading  in and out of school.

An intelligently-designed school library is one of the most efficient ways to promote reading in school students. Libraries that encourage pupil engagement with both fiction and non-fiction reading benefit not just academic progress, but also social development in the wider world.


An easily-accessible library will encourage pupils to use the facility in their free time; it stands to reason that a remotely-placed library will be used by a smaller proportion of school students.

Locating a school library in or next to a reception area/atrium can help encourage pupils to use the library due to the heavy footfall these areas inevitably receive. An open-plan design with a welcoming entrance is important to make the space less intimidating, especially for younger pupils.

Dedicated Zones

Incorporating separate zones for different age groups can make it easier for students to find appropriate reading material for their age and academic ability. A student chancing upon a book beyond their academic ability may be put off from using the library in the future.  Age-appropriate furniture and décor, alongside clear signage, is an easy way to divide the space into zones.

Environmental Features

A study by the University of Salford suggests that the environmental factors of a classroom affect academic progress of pupils by as much as 25%. The study showed that a wide range of features such as natural light, acoustics, temperature and air quality all affect the pupil development.

Libraries are sometimes quiet places, so controlling acoustics is an important environmental feature to consider.

Considered Design

Library design should go beyond simply creating a space for books, and instead consider how student attention can be captured and retained.  Robert Stone at Innova Design Solutions suggests that schools, “should make sure that the shelves are convertible from flat, spine-on to face-on display. This is particularly important when a library serves different age groups; younger readers tend to have slimmer books, which are better displayed face-on, but more confident readers do not need the same degree of visual display and are happy to choose from spine-on books.”


Combining fun, aesthetically-pleasing designs with functional furniture can help entice students to use the full range of features of the library.  Appealing to the sense of adventure and escape which makes books so magical for readers can inspire pupils to seek out the library in their leisure time. It’s important to make the school library a comfortable learning space where students are happy to spend time and give schools a design which allows them to adapt the space for evolving needs.

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