Modular and small libraries

Last updated:  25 March 2024

The State Library worked with fjmt architects to develop tools to assist NSW councils and libraries in the planning and design of small library buildings.  

The series of library plan templates include library layouts of various sizes and additional modules that can be put together to create usable library spaces of different sizes.  

These modules could also be used to extend existing library spaces, for example to include additional seating areas or a meeting room.

In planning a public library building to meet the needs of your community please see  People Places to assist you in determining the size of the library space required for your population and the catchment area of the library. 

Library plan templates

The templates are provided as a guide and it may be appropriate to mix and match some of the components.  A range of service desks have been included in the plans. These are of different sizes, some providing space for tasks whereas others are more suitable for a 'roving reference' type service.  There is also an option for a service desk combined with the public access computer area.


The library plan templates are provided in four sizes: 

  • 190 square metres (the minimum recommended library size)
  • 250 square metres
  • 500 square metres 
  • 1,000 square metres. 

The templates are provided as 2.5 x 2.5 metre modules which provide a simple arrangement along both axes. Templates are also provided for each size in 4.8 x 12 metre modules. These are compatible with standard building material lengths at 1.2 metre increments.

All plans are in a scale of 1:200 when printed on A3 paper.

Library plans

2.5 x 2.5 metres

Download templates

2.4 x 3 metres

Download templates

3D illustrations

These diagrams show a '3 dimensional' view of the library layouts to help visualise how the design will look.

Download templates

Seating, shelving and meeting room modules

These additional modules can be added to the standard library plan templates. For example, if you have a planned building of 568 square metres you could use the 500 square metre template and add two additional seating/shelving modules. 

The modules can also be used to help design an extension to an existing library building. For example if you have a library of suitable layout and design but without a meeting room and you have the opportunity to extend the current library you could add on one of the meeting modules.

There are two different versions of the modules. The larger scale versions make it easier to see what is in each module. The smaller scale versions are on a scale of 1:200 when printed on A3 paper. These are the same scale as the library plan templates and are provided so that the modules and templates can be used together when planning a library space. 

Module plans

Seating and shelving areas

Download templates

Meeting rooms

Download templates


'Shipping container' libraries

The Small library project report provides information on the design and scope of  'shipping container' style libraries using the modular library templates.   These temporary libraries could be used as a trial library for a new location before deciding if a permanent library is needed. They could also be used as an add-on to an existing building to provide more space. 

The Public Library Services team is available to provide advice to NSW public libraries on buildings and spaces.  

Contact us to discuss how we can assist your library.