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Free Online Space Planning Tools for Libraries (and other spaces)

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Blog posts on the topic:

Additional suggestions from fellow law librarians:

1) Sketchup: Sketchup is suitable for libraries but definitely targets the home renovation crowd. The free version was sufficient for our planning. I found useful for:

  • Planning, visualizing, and revising our floor space during the brainstorming phase
  • Using the 3d model to preview my ideas to my directors
  • Using the 3d model to show the building architect our intent – this was quite fun, actually, the architect did not expect us to have all the details
  • And, finally, comparing the 3d model with the actual space during the build-out phase – the model helped the contractors see how the shelves would be installed and prevents them from putting thermostats, electrical conduits, and light-switches in “bad places”

2) MS Paint: I scanned in an existing floor plan as a starting point. Then, I altered it in MS Paint (in Windows: Start button -> Accessories folder -> Paint).

3) MS Publisher: I used Microsoft Publisher, which was already on our computers, to draw boxes for layouts of our new space and for new shelve layouts (trying to implement LC classification for our books).

4) MS Excel: While not exactly free, it has useful drawing, borders and scalable grid features. I’ve used it for years to do library floor plans, shelf layouts, and even kitchen and bath remodels.

5) Google Sketchup: Was the easiest I found to use. Take a map or something that has your floor plan to scale, scan it in to the the computer, then trace over it in Google Sketchup. Make sure to do the floor plan to scale, and then you can search other people’s objects and find a model of pretty much any mass produced furniture. Then you click and drag that model onto your floor plan and arrange as you like.

6) Gliffy: Library floor plan created using Gliffy, a web-based diagram and flowchart software. I found it relatively simple to use, but in case you wanted more information, here are some reviews about it:

Thank you to fellow law-lib listserv contributors!

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the Comments or email us at oregonlegalresearch@yahoo.com.