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Library Standards: Buildings, Furnitures & Manpower

Library Standards: Buildings, Furniture’s & Manpower

Pramod Kumar Singh

We may define standards, as officially adopted quantitative and qualitative norms which have been variously interpreted as the pattern of an ideal, a model procedure, a measure for appraisal, a stimulus for future development and improvement, and as an instrument to assist decision and action. In the context of libraries, the Standards are based on criteria, which can be instrumental in the measurements or assessment of the library services. These criteria are determined by the professional librarians in order to attain and maintain the objectives they set unto themselves. Library Standards are not only helpful in the library work but they also serve administrators and heads of the institutions in planning and administering the libraries. The Standards serve the dual function of the evaluation of the on-going services as well as of Planning better and improved services for the future. The Standards serve as indispensable aid to library authorities and Librarians in developing adequate bookstocks, in functional and adequate building made, and in securing properly qualified personnel. This brings uniformity and order, without which a library is merely a storehouse of hidden riches. So, Let’s start with the stage of the planning of the Libraries or Information Centre and the use of various standards in these. So now we can see what are the Standards there for the Planning of Libraries: -

  1. Building, Furniture’s and Fittings Planning:-

Planning for optimum utilization of space is an important task. This implies the development of a functionally effective layout of the Information Centre. {Planning of the physical layout should, among other things, consider the overall objective and function of the Information centre and assess the space requirements.}

Indian Standards Institute which is now known as Bureau of Indian Standards,

appointed Dr. S. R. Ranganathan as the Chairman of its first Documentation Sectional Committee, which fixed (accorded) priority to the areas of library buildings, furniture’s and fittings. The Committee finalized its draft for Standards regarding Buildings, Furniture’s and Fittings, and as a result IS: 1553 – 1960 Code of practice relating to Primary elements in the design of library building came into existence that gives information on the following things: -

  1. The average size of different types of libraries in terms of the number of books bound volumes of periodicals, number of current periodicals for display, the number of seats for readers, and strength staff;
  2. The different kinds of rooms required for different libraries; and
  3. The basis and method of estimating the dimension of each kind of room, etc.

Since 1960 the following more Standards have been developed by the Indian Standards Institution, that are as follows: -

1. IS : 2672 - 1966 Code of Practice for Library Lighting.

  1. IS : 1892 (Part I) - 1978 Specifications for Library Furniture’s and Fittings, Part I : Timber (1st Revision).
  2. IS : 1892 (Part II) – 1977 Specifications for Library Furniture’s and Fittings, Part II : Steel.
  3. IS : 1233 – 1969 Recommendations for Modular Coordination of Dimensions in the Building Industry (1st Revision).
  4. IS : 1172 – 1971 Code of Basic Requirements for Water Supply, Drainage, and Sanitation (2nd Revision).
  5. IS : 1883 – 1975 Metal Shelving Racks (Adjustable Type)(2nd Revision).
  6. IS : 8338 – 1976 Recommendations relating to Primary Elements in Design of School Library Buildings.
  7. IS : 3312 – 1974 Steel Shelving Cabinets (Adjustable Type)(1st Revision).
  8. IS : 4116 – 1976 Wooden Shelving Cabinets (Adjustable Type)(1st Revision)

All these Standards laid only the essential dimensions for proper functioning

of the Fittings and Furniture’s. Otherwise full freedom is given to the Architect to Plan and design the Library Building according to the best of his creative ability.

An estimate of a built-in space required for the Information Centre, will be as shown in the transparency.




AREA in Sq. Meters


Stack Room for 10,000 volumes

100 Volumes Per Sq. Meter



Reading Room for 50 readers

3.3 Sq. Meters Per Reader



Head and two Senior Professionals

15 Sq. Meters Per Person



Other Professional Staff (27)

9 Sq. Meters Per Person




#Administrative officer

#Other Staff (22)

15 Sq. Meters Per Person

9 Sq. Meters Per Person




Library Counter



At Service Point (15)

5 Sq. Meters Per Person



Seminar Room



Committee Room



Visitors Room


Total :



Additional Space for Passage, etc. (Approximately 40% of Space estimated)


Total Space Required :


Transparency-1 : Space Requirement for LIC’s

The space required for the Reprography/ Printing Section has not been included as it should be done on the basis of the equipment used. However, a minimum of 200 Sq. Meters would be required.

In the planning of library buildings, Ranganathan’s five Laws of library science with their possible implications may be used as basic principles. On the other hand Kaula has summarized the principles enunciated by different specialists as follows:-

  1. Building should be designed on the functional basis;
  2. Physical design should be governed by the functions of the library;
  3. Interior details should be planned anterior to the exterior;
  4. Building should provide economy in administration and Operation;
  5. Main study areas should be close to the book shelves and stacks;
  6. Building should represent simplicity in character;
  7. Consideration should be given for expansion and anticipated development in the future;
  8. Physical conveniences should be in proportion to the number and nature of Clientele and library staff;
  9. Details of the library should be worked out, based on the existing data and the proportional future growth; and
  10. Plan of the building should be adaptable to the future growth and development.


Obviously, if Planning has to be based on the above mentioned principles, a

Large amount of data pertaining to Document collection, Acquisition programme, Technical operations, Reading space, Accessibility to shelves, Circulation, Reference and Consultation , Specialized services (if any), and library personnel needs to be collected.

The entire planning activity needs the participation of the librarian, architect,

consultant, administrator and the constructor engineer.

After the planning of the space and building, we have to take care of an

Another Important thing in the library, that is Furniture and equipment planning, because it has been said that a library building is incomplete without the proper furniture, fitting and furnishings.

Since the selection of furniture is directly related to its intended function and

location within the library or Information Centre, it should be made by the appropriate person. According to Thompson, the librarian should choose the shelving, catalogues and technical equipment and the architect should choose chairs and tables because these are the wares with which he is concerned throughout his professional life. Perhaps, it would be ideal if there is mutual consultation between them in selecting the furniture.

If you want to fabricate the furniture’s locally, then it is necessary to prepare the detailed drawings of the furniture giving all the specifications required. In this context, the standard developed by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the United States Federal Supply Service, and the International Standard Organization

(ISO : 5970 : 1979. Furniture, chairs and tables for educational institutions including libraries) can be helpfully utilized.

The information centre is expected to build up the nucleus collection of documents within a few years after its inception. The estimate of furniture and equipment mentioned in transparency is based on the document collection, number of readers, and number of professional/ non- professional. In the estimation, the recommendations contained in the following Indian Standards have been considered.

  1. IS : 1829 (Part – 1) – 1961 . Specifications for library furniture’s and fittings. Part-1 : Timber; and
  2. IS : 1553 – 1960. Code of practice relating to primary elements in the design of library buildings.



  4. Manpower Planning and Standards: - Manpower Planning at the organizational level has been defined as "strategy for acquisition, utilisation, improvement and of an enterprise’s human resources".

The need for Manpower Planning requires no emphasis as the

efficiency and effectiveness of libraries and information centres would largely depend on the academic and professional competence of the staff and on the facilities and environment provided for their work and development.

While the Manpower planning exercise is likely to provide exact

forecasts, one of the advantages (normally underscored) is that it gives a general indication of the potential ‘trouble-spots’. Another point to be stressed is that this process is not a one time exercise but a continuous one as manpower plans need to be constantly evaluated and updated with the changing needs of expertise due to the technological changes.

Basically Manpower Planning includes determining the staff required, selection and recruitment, appropriate placement, promotion, provision of opportunities for maximum individual contribution under desirable working relationships and conditions, provision for professional personnel development as well as improvement of working conditions to obtain maximum productivity and efficiency under specifically emphasized consideration for individual and human elements. In other words, the objective should be to estimate, retain, utilize and develop an adequate staff by which to carry on efficiently the operations of the library; and to help to fulfill the aspirations and capabilities of the individuals who compose the staff.

After the staff formula suggested by Dr. Ranganathan to UGC, the Staff Inspection Unit (SIU) of Ministry of Finance (Department of Expenditure) evolved standards in 1966 for application in government libraries, which was strongly criticised by the Associations like IASLIC, GILA, etc. now you can see the Ranganathan’s staff formula or the manpower norm, from this transparency:-



Section with function

Annual Quantum per person




  1. Book/ Document Section
  2. -Selection, Ordering, & accessioning of purchased as well as books received on exchange or as gifts.

6000 documents annually added

  • Periodical Publication Section
  • - Ordering, receipt, preparation & display of current periodicals, their cumulation, and preparing for binding on the completion of volume.

    500 periodical titles received

  • Technical Processing Section
  • - Classification, Catalogue, etc.

    1500 to 2000 documents annually added

  • Circulation Section
  • - Charging and discharging of books/ documents all through each day.

    1500 gate-hours, the Circulation Counter is kept open

  • Reference Section
  • - Helping the users in the choice of books and articles, answering reference queries.

    50 queries/ readers in a day.

  • Maintenance Section

    • Maintenance of books/ periodicals in the correct sequence on selves, maintenance of gang-way guides, bay guides, shelf guides in the stack.
    • Daily replacement of books/ docs. Returned
    • Preparation of books for repair and binding.

    -One person for every 10,000 vols. In stack.

    -One person for every 6000 vols. Annually added.

    1. Information Services Section

    - Abstracting, State-of-the-art report, Critical data compilation, Critical review, etc.

    1.5 Man Year on average for each service

    8. Supervisory Staff

    One for every 1500 hours the SL & IC is kept open.

    Fig:- Ranaganathan’s Staff Formula/ Manpower Norm’s


    The functions pertaining to the acquisition, technical processing, circulation, serials control, bibliographic information retrieval system, etc can be automated to a certain extent. This necessarily has implications on the performance standards already developed. This calls for a re-examination of the existing performance standards, such as, Ranganathan’s staff formula.

    Now at the end of talk, I would like to say that with the changing environment or role of libraries, due to the change in the media and user’s information seeking behaviour, the standards should have to be critically seen in the light of Technological changes and be modified accordingly.