Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



The Good Process – from New Needs to New Spaces

Large, complicated public construction projects such as a new library always involve a whole string of different players, but who are involved, when and how much varies from one project to another. Once the political decision has been made, politicians will always delegate the client function to their administration. It is important that the organisation ensures that people with core competences are placed centrally. The Head of Culture and the Head of Library Services are good choices as chairman of the client function, which should obviously also include competences from the Technical Services Department.

The day-to-day project management can be the same for the entire project, or it can call on different project managers in accordance with the different stages of the project. And, naturally, it is decisive for the quality and functionality of the building that especially in the early stages of the project, efficient links are created between the responsible project management and the library specialist competences and users who will eventually fill the library with content and life.

When deciding whether or not to build

The decision about building a new library is made in the client organisation and sometimes, it is included in multiannual strategy plans a long time before the actual construction work. Here, the politicians are the key players, but the management with its draft proposal from the administration is also important. Many general decisions are to be made during this phase, which means that politicians and municipal top management will be very visible and active in the process. It is therefore important to ensure as qualified a decision bases as possible in advance. During this phase, a typical task for the project manager will be to supply analyses and other specialist input that can contribute to qualifying the decision basis and proposals for the schedule for the continued process, including user involvement. It is also a good idea to phrase the core values for the project so that everybody in the client organisation agrees what you want to achieve through the project. The working procedure and the distribution of roles can be outlined as shown in the figure below.

If you would like to see the figure in a larger format, press the magnifying glass in the corner at the bottom right.

When you have completed this phase, the result should be:

  • An analysis of the need and the strategic decision about how to meet the need, in the form of a vision for your new library
  • A framing of the project that provides an overview of how you get from vision to the finished construction project
  • Terms of reference for the user involvement process so that it is clear what the users have influence on and when.

Before making a strategic decision about initiating the construction of a new library, it is important to assess the degree to which space and settings can be created for the desired new functions and activities within the existing framework. It is also important to make a factual and objective calculation of how great a user group a newly constructed library would be able to attract, also after the novelty value wears off.

When deciding what to build

During this phase, you have to convert your vision into concrete wishes and needs. This is often where the users – in the widest sense – come into play. During this phase, your combined experience, wishes and visions turn into concrete priorities. As a user, it is important to be able to recognise one's wishes and to feel a sense of ownership for the finished project. It is therefore important that the users help prioritise needs within the resource-related framework that has been approved. Users may, in addition to the future staff, include e.g. faithful library users, parents of young children, managers and staff from other cultural institutions and educational institutions, active young people, local artists and other dedicated people.

The result of this phase should be:

  • That a well-planned user involvement process has been carried out, and that the users' sense of ownership for the construction project has been secured.
  • That the recapitulation from the process has been taken into consideration in the design of the construction/competition programme.

You can read more about the good process here.

You can find more inspiration and good advice, both about the process from idea to commissioned building and about the players who it will be an advantage to activate along the way in the report ‘From new needs to new spaces’ (In Danish). The report focuses on the construction process' first four phases: the preliminary phase, the ideas phase, the programme phase and the proposal phase. For each phase, the report describes which key considerations and decisions need to be included in the construction process, and who should be doing what. You can also find checklists and inspiration for the individual phases at (In Danish).

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas about how to ensure a good process in relation to a new library building or an extensive refurbishment, or if you have comments to this article, please feel free to contribute via the Facebook group.

21. Jun 2016 at. 14:47

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