Philosophy and Design Principles

Following intensive observation of patron behavior in hundreds of libraries, Opening the Book created Performance shelving to bring a dynamic new approach to library interiors.

Through Brodart’s exclusive partnership with Opening the Book, the key principles behind the successful design can be manufactured and shared with American Libraries working with Brodart dealers like Vance Hunt Libraries.

1. Open layouts with great views through the Library

Curved shapes in Performance shelving create open, organic layouts which inspire more interest and a sub-conscience curiosity .

Shaping shelving draws us forward to explore; eyes and feet are pulled along the curves to the next section before we even realize. The entire Library is opened up; becoming a series of discoveries.

Rows vs Curves
A paradigm shift on housing your collection.

2. Use Shelving Architecturally– create shapes and spaces.

Flowing Shelving Layouts will complement the shape of the building.

Heights & Sizes create anchors in the Library and attractive routes through the Library.

Create shapes and spaces

3. Use shelving to divide and zone a space

You can build your layout plan by starting at the library entrance or by placing an anchor shape mid-floor.

This example shows how OTB Performance Shelving can be used to articulate an unfolding pattern of differentiated spaces.


Each of these spaces has its own atmosphere and identity and yet there are no hard barriers. Views open up throughout the design and the whole layout feels airy and spacious.

4. Create impact with retail-style Lightboxes

5.Build dynamic people flow

Research indicates that many patrons do not explore the whole library space.  Only those who know what they want will walk the aisles of shelving, but many of those eventually give up; leaving empty handed and frustrated.

Go with the OTB Flow.  Visitors turn into patrons as the uncover all that your Library has to offer.

6. Color with Confidence

7. World-class product Display

  • Performance shelving is based on bookstore shelving which is designed to tempt customers to pick up a book. The curved shapes bring products into the eyeline at every turn.  Shelves are angled back so that products are tipped up towards the eye.  Bumpouts are supplied to bring products to the front of base shelves.
  • Shelf intervals are easily adjusted so the display always looks full and tempting. Shelves are L-shaped and can be reversed in every book case to fit larger or smaller depths of book.  Display shelves for face-out display are available and acrylic Feature Fillers.

OTB Signage is also retail-style with dramatic Lightbox-Graphics and Clear-Bay-Headers making navigation very easy.

  • Library patrons are used to retail standards of merchandising where the customer makes no effort to find anything – products present themselves to the eyes and hands. Performance shelving brings this level of product display to Your Library.

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