Highgate Library Brief

Envisioning a Library of the Future in Highgate - July 2017


“Our Vision is one of a vibrant, modern and inspiring public library, equipped to serve a 21st Century society, being sustainable and relevant to the changing needs of the community it serves helping everyone achieve their full potential”.

This will be achieved by:

·      Highgate Library enabling individuals to access reading and literacy for themselves while supporting those that may need it.

·      Highgate Library will develop its digital access, enhancing digital literacy in the community supporting those that may need it.

·      Highgate Library will enrich peoples lives by working hand in hand with Jacksons Lane, broadening its cultural and creative offer for the community. 


Libraries are welcoming, free, non-judgemental, safe, inspiring and available to all. They are places of culture, learning and contemplation, of fun and social engagement. There are no boundaries in libraries except for those of respect and consideration for others. The spaces that library services are in should reflect these values as should the people that work there.

Libraries are amazing and unique places but they cannot stand still in changing world

The innovative proposal to collocate of the library within the new improved Jacksons Lane building is a unique opportunity to create a community facility that retains the best of both and builds on the synergies between the two to provide a great experience for the whole family or groups under one roof.  This could be a child in a circus skills class, a teenager doing homework, adults reading a book in the café waiting to pick up the children, attending a reading group session, using the free computers and much more.

There will opportunities for crossover between the areas organically as people use the space in the way that chose to.  Also for libraries and Jacksons Lane to build a programme of activity together using shared expertise.

The high footfall at Jacksons Lane and greater visibility will expose the library to non-library users and increase the use. Especially in the hard to reach groups such as teenagers and young people though their youth board and extensive youth programme.


The services that are delivered at Highgate will reflect modern needs, anticipate future innovation and celebrate the past. Using the technology to free staff up from transactional work to allow them to focus on the customer and their needs. Which may be helping with homework, using computers, book recommendations, reader development or storytelling and activities for children.

Care should be taken to ensure that the types of activity or usage of either service does not compromise the other. For example, a noisy children’s activity in the library would interrupt a quiet play reading and a noisy street dance class in the Arts Centre would interrupt a homework club in the library.

The library should be highly visible from the street and fully accessible. The preferred option would be for the library to be on the ground floor and one open plan space to allow for maximum flexibility so that the spaces can be adapted to suit different demands on the service now and over time, this will also facilitate the most effective and economical use of staff time.

The space should be light and airy with quality lighting, floor, wall and door fittings.

The staff work space should be on the same level and within the library footprint, this will enable a member of staff who is working in the workroom carrying out stock maintenance work or preparing for activities to be present in the library from a lone working perspective, to be able to be responsive to customer demand to ease queues or to support colleagues with difficult situations when needed.

The two services should be connected to allow users of both services to flow freely between the two during common opening hours and to create a community facility that is well used and able to accommodate the whole family or group in whatever activity they chose to do, together or separately.


All spaces should be accessible for wheelchair users and pushchairs.


  • A range of seating will include
  • Comfortable seating
  • Table and chairs 


  • Table and chairs for toddlers (under 5s) for reading and play activities
  • Story cushions
  • Comfortable seating for adults and children
  • Full size table and chairs for homework or craft purposes
  • A safe and containable area for play and storytelling sessions
  • Computers x 2
  • Wall space or boards for the display of children’s artwork and promotional activities such as the summer reading challenge

Young people

  • Comfortable seating
  • Table and chairs               
  • I-pad station


Display and promotion

In all spaces, there is a requirement to be able to display and promote stock by using specialist furniture and display stands.

Notice boards are needed for

  • Statutory notices
  • Community events
  • Library events
  • HLAG and Friends groups


  • Desk top computers with appropriate furniture x 4
  • Public access Wi-Fi 
  • ipads on stalks to access the library catalogue, order books, join the library.
  • Self- service book issue and return kiosks x 2 and appropriate furniture to include returns and requested books shelf.
  • Public access MFD (printer, copier, scanner)
  • Charging points for smart phone devices.


  • Small staff information desk in the public area with room for one staff computer to be used for enquiries and membership enquires. (All stock will be issued using the self-service kiosks) To be located to allow easy for lines of sight and access from all areas of the library
  • Rest room facilities including kitchen, lockers, WC. These can be a shared space.
  • Storage for spare folding tables and chairs for use during events of activities
  • A Workroom for receipt of deliveries, stock work, preparation for craft based activities, counting and banking of cash. It will have:
  • A work bench able to accommodate up to two computers and two draftsman type high chairs
  • Shelfing for stock
  • Storage for craft materials and stationary should as date labels and book jacketing.
  • A small safe


Community spaces

Space is required for community groups, classes and meeting to take place these spaces should provide accommodation for small groups of 4, 6-8 people and up to 15 people. These will have WiFi and have furniture that can be arranged to suit different needs. These can be shared but consideration needs to be given to the current use in the library and a pricing structure agreed.

Stock (the volume of stock is expected to remain the same)


  • fiction – hard back and paperback
  • non-fiction – hard back and paperback
  • large print
  • audio books
  • newspapers and magazines
  • Audio visual material – CDs and DVDs

Young adults (teenage)

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Graphic novels

Children’s books

  • Picture books (under 5s)
  • First reading books (age 4-7)
  • Easy readers (learning to read age 5 - 8)
  • Junior fiction (primary, age 7 – 11)