an image from the inside of a historic library

Academic Libraries: Space Planning and Design Charrette

Tour two Harvard libraries in this one-day program focused on the unique space and design challenges of academic libraries. 

This program is preceded by Future Library Design: Emerging and Enduring Principles.

Curious about what to expect when coming to campus? Please visit our Campus Learning page.

We will think about and test a range of aspects of space planning for academic libraries, including space design, understanding the library’s relationship with the broader institution, trends in academic libraries, and specific impacts on space design.

The pandemic and other external forces, such as economics, online learning, changing pedagogy, and new technologies are changing the ways in which students learn and each of these impacts how academic libraries are evolving their collecting priorities, the space taken up by collections, and new ways spaces are used in our libraries.

This class will focus on the specific aspects of academic libraries and how to think about designing new library spaces in academic institutions that meet the shifts we are experiencing and how our faculty and students are learning. 

What to Expect

a group exercise during academic libraries
Library exterior at night

The program will begin with a walking tour of two Harvard Library locations. Harvard Library is the network of Harvard University’s libraries and services. Established in 1848, it is the oldest library system in the United States and both the largest academic library and the largest private library in the world. 

We will build a shared understanding of the aspects of academic libraries that are different from other libraries, including the unique external and institutional forces, thinking about library planning in the academic context, and the space planning process in academic institutions. We will test possible design solutions for different scenarios in academic libraries through mini design charettes.

The design activities will allow participants to consider the role of the librarian, the design process, the opportunities in space changes, preparing for space planning, how to engage with larger campus issues that the library can be part of solving, and applying design solutions.

The class is comprised of tours, short lectures and case studies, discussions with instructors and attendees, in-class activities, and design exercises to apply the principles discussed throughout the day.

  • Understand the impacts of changes in higher education, the library profession, and library spaces.
  • Learn about library programming and planning considerations in the academic context.
  • Learn about the space planning process for academic libraries.
  • Test out different design solutions within an academic library context.

Architects, interior designers, contractors, academic librarians, academic library staff, and academic leaders involved with major library design projects.


Headshot of Ann Whiteside

Ann Whiteside

Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Guest Speakers

Eric Howeler

Co-founding Principal of Höweler + Yoon & Associate Professor of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Evan Simpson

Associate Dean for Experiential Learning & Academic Engagement, Library Administration, Office of the Dean, Northeastern University

Participant Stories

Matthew Sheehy

University Librarian of Brandeis University

Academic Libraries: Space Planning and Design Charrette

August 9, 2024 | 9:00am – 5:00pm EDT

Harvard University Campus 
Tuition: $950
AMDP Elective Units: 1

Program size is limited and early registration is recommended.

Discounts & Deadlines

Enjoy a 10% discount when you register for this program and its companion, Future Library Design: Emerging and Enduring Principles.

Register for Both

Please email us at [email protected] with any questions and to ask about group signup.

Registration Deadline: 24 hours before the start of the program.

Full Discount and Cancellation Policies