The ecology of public library reference rooms

Snunith Shoham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A study was done of the effects of the interior physical design on preferences and behavior of public library users. The research was conducted in reference rooms of urban public libraries, whose clients are not as homogenous a population as other libraries' clients, and includes many adolescents. The research tools were questionnaires that were filled in by users studying at the reference rooms, and observations that were made in order to build a behavioral map of these reference rooms users. A clear preference to choose seats in the peripheral parts of the library was revealed. The reasons given for seating preference were quiet, privacy, and ability to concentrate. Most of those who come alone tended to choose seats at an empty desk. Forty-four percent of those who came to study came with a friend(s) -a phenomenon that is common among adolescents. However, those who came accompanied also preferred hidden and peripheral seats. Therefore, there is a need for varied, separated, small study areas scattered through the reference room. Also, the differences between modular and fixed-function libraries were studied. No difference was found in seating preferences. However, differences appeared in the clients' perceptrons of the room space, in problems with noise and movement of people and in greater exposure of the clients in modular hbraries to other activities and services of the library.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Library Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 31 Dec 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
& Librarianship of Bar-[Ian University, Israel, and the School of Library & Archive Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. This study was funded by Yad-Ora Fund, The Hebrew University of Jerusa-


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