Libraries are going through a renaissance, both in terms of the social infrastructure they provide and the diversification of services and experiences offered.

In corporate environments they are playing an increased role in the provision of collaborative workspace and innovation. In communities, they are evolving into hubs for education, health, entertainment and work. These trends reflect increased efforts by libraries across a range of sectors to bring people back into their physical spaces.

This has resulted in an increase in tangible experiences, including maker spaces and immersive activities, particularly in public libraries. In addition to changing spatial layout and programmes, the digital environment is key. The “walls” of a library continue to expand beyond the physical space, with an increase in online resources, social media, crowdsourcing and mobile services having an impact on how collections are accessed online and on the go.

Our research covers changes in spatial design, services offered, customer base, digital experience, and impacts on the people working in libraries and providing the service. New skills for library staff may be required to compliment a shift focus, impacting the education and training of those within the profession.

Key trends are explored, shaping the future of public, academic and corporate libraries. The report outlines implications on future design, operation and user experience; and suggests what we may expect to see, feel and do in the library of the future.

Future Libraries is a product of Arup University. By investing in tools, skills and people, Arup University helps the firm deliver excellence, foster technical expertise and encourage a unique design culture.