Library Planning & Design

The library of the future will be less about what it has, and more about what it does.

Libraries have evolved significantly over the last 40 years. In that time, we have designed more than 50 libraries across the country. While some may have once questioned the relevancy of libraries in today’s digital age, like you, we have seen first-hand that these most public of all institutions are still critical to a community’s well-being. Built on the foundation of access to knowledge for all regardless of creed, birth, economy, or education, libraries are a great equalizer. Whereas libraries of our recent past were about content consumption, today’s libraries are more intent on content creation. Communities have brought libraries back to life by embracing their communal spaces to create, make, examine, imagine, compose, and propose new ideas. A library is a fixed built environment, yet every visit, every interaction offers a distinctive experience. When a library melds the legacy of its past with the possibilities of the future, it is both familiar and comfortable, yet novel and inspiring. Libraries of today are community catalysts.

  • Regionally proven, local design team
    118 designers in four studios.
  • Dedicated & passionate library specialists
    30+ communities served.
  • Committed firm leadership
    More than 50 years combined experience
  • Relationship driven
    30% of our work is with civic & library clients
  • Who we are

Working with us

What you can expect from us

  • an ego-free & respectful, collaborative spirit

  • local expertise with boots on the ground

  • true partners from project beginning to end

Your team of experts

Toby Olsen Associate Principal & Library Practice Leader
OPN Cedar Rapids

Gina Coles Flint Public Library

In the face of adversity, a public library in a community struggling with systemic socio-economic and social divides sought to transform, renew, revitalize, and reinvent its 1950s building into a modern and flexible beacon for learning and hope. The library was remade from the inside out, transforming to an equitable, confident, and aspirational place for the community. While maintaining the original footprint of the building, the 94,000 square foot interior was reconfigured to include new openings between the first and second floors. Windows were added and replaced and exterior architectural fins, both new and existing, were reclad to reflect the surrounding midcentury buildings that comprise the cultural campus on which the library sits. The once dark and dated regional reference library is now a flexible, community-focused, and light-filled space with improved wayfinding and visual connections throughout.

  • 2022 • American Institute of Architects Merit Award
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Our Work

Our Portfolio

What we're saying

What our clients are saying

OPN has been a tremendous asset to work with. They truly are invested in learning and understanding your library history, how your team operates, and how you want your future library space to function. OPN has been a tremendous resource—they study and know how a 21st library should operate, they have built a plethora of librarian contacts and resources over the last 20 years that they have been able to connect me with, so I am able to make educated decisions on our future library space. Rachel Van Erdewyk, Drector, Carroll Public Library

Get in touch

Carly Weber, Marketing Director