Organizational Diagrams

Historical Development

1. Medieval Monastic Library
2. 17th and 18th Century Hall Library
3. 19th Century Closed Stack Library
4. 20th Century Open Stack Library
5. Branch Library
6. Integrated Open Stack Library
7. Electronic Library of the Future
Our goal is to understand the basic form determinants in library design, how libraries have evolved over time, and how they might develop in the future.

Medieval Monastic Library







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Medieval Monastic
Limited numbers of books and readers
No service component; i.e., all readers serve as their own reference librarians, no book check-out, books chained to lecterns for security, etc.

Books are dispersed throughout the reading area
Books and individual readers are collocated, with book cupboards and chained books on lecterns

17th and 18th Century
Hall Library









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Increasing numbers of books and readers requiring consolidation of books
Limited size of collections still does not require a service component

Concentric organization of books around the perimeter of the reading area with readers surrounded by books
Introduction of book stacks to accommodate larger numbers of books in these areas

19th Century
Closed Stack Library









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Closed Stack
Dramatically increasing numbers of books and readers
Introduction of a new service component for cataloging, circulation, and security

Separation of books from reading area for efficient consolidation of stacks
Introduction of a separate service component for efficient and controlled access to books
Readers separated from books

20th Century
Open Stack Library









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Open Stack
Proliferation of free public libraries causes increase in numbers of books and readers
Subsequent need for direct public access to books

Stacks are still consolidated, but are now open to the reading area for public access

Branch Library








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Decentralization of library functions for community and neighborhood access
Resulting decrease in number of books on site

Corresponding decrease in size of stack area and related service functions.

Open Stack Library








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Integrated Open Stack
Increasing demand for public access to information
Fewer books and a decrease in circulation and reference assistance as a result of
new electronic information storage and access technology
Increase in the variety and scope of reader activities as the library diversifies to accommodate different kinds of activities

Decrease in the size of book storage and service areas
Increase in the size of reader activity area
Integration of books and service directly into the reading area

Electronic Library
of the Future









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Library of the Future
Dramatic increase in the amount and accessibility of information through electronic media

Decentralization of information access and reference components — dispersal of information ‘smart points' throughout the library
Reference and service functions are relegated to the reader
Similarity to the organization of medieval library



Note: This Web page was rescued from the Internet Archive's snapshot of the 1998 Library Design Competition site.  Its remarkably lucid comparison of these seven library models was too good to lose.  Please contact me if you wish to claim ownership and/or to request further acknowledgement.  This page is being used for educational purposes as part of English 241: Archeology of Text (Goucher College, Baltimore, MD 21204).