The Changing Face of Libraries

The role of the library in our local communities has shifted from being simply about books, to providing access to information and services. We look at the current and future design trends that are being incorporated to meet this change.

Lobby of The Marcus Gravey Centre, Haringey, London

Portsdown recently completed a project at the Marcus Garvey Centre, which included a stunning lobby furnished with bespoke joinery, LED lit desks and book displays. The Marcus Garvey Library and Customer Service Hub in Haringey also includes a fantastic space upstairs for the community to access council services and visit councillor surgeries.

After completion, it made us think... what made this project so different, and what trends are we now seeing in the regular library fit outs we complete?

Leading the project in Haringey with over 25 years in the industry, and experienced in managing numerous library fit out projects Peter Crompton, Portsdown Associate Director seemed like the guy to ask!


What made The Marcus Garvey Centre different to other libraries you've fitted out in the past?

Well the local community were very passionate about the centre and what it stood for, they had lobbied to avoid closure and a solution had involved a major refurbishment. In order to gain funding the local council proposed to incorporate other services into the library building and this made the Marcus Garvey Library a real destination.


So what design trends are you seeing more commonly implemented in libraries?

Increased light and bright airy spaces that really welcome you in, we have seen a real trend towards contemporary design with a desire to attract a more design conscious and trendy public. There’s also been a massive increase in the use of I.T. in these spaces and we are finding as specialists in the education and office market we are able to design and inform our customers on the best product solutions for the tasks.


What other design elements do you see being incorporated in our local library in the future?

How about a virtual reality hub where you don’t even have to have a real book in your hand. More tablets instead of PC’s I guess and more technology undoubtedly. Hopefully, there will be a trend back towards more books, I love sitting and reading through a specific focussed book rather than just flicking randomly through a tablet.  I’m not sure what other local services you can fit into a library, but maybe shopping and restaurants will be the next step.



The project at The Marcus Garvey Centre demonstrates how libararies continue to be a much needed hub for local communities. Providing a space for members of the public to have access to research and share knowledge is still an essential service provided by councils.

Making technology freely available and creating a space that is multifunctional is now key to creating these community spaces. The libary that consists of endless bookshelfs and a handful of desks are quickly being replaced by centres like that at Marcus Garvey, where additional services are provided; making libraries communal buildings that aim to serve the general public in as many ways possible.

Creating a colloborative space that is accomodating to the technology provided is an essential part of the library design process. The ability for the space to adapt and change over time must also be considered so that libraries can continue to evolve and meet the needs of the communities that use them.

To find out how Portsdown can create an inspiring workspace for you, contact us on


Phone: Chichester 01243 819 400 / London 020 7492 1769



The Marcus Garvey Centre
Peter Crompton, Associate Director, Portsdown Office

Peter Crompton

Associate Director

With over 25 years experience, Peter specialises in design and build solutions for offices, libraries, residential, and educational projects. A detailed knowledge of space and design led solutions, Peter's eye for detail and considered approach to project management allows him to deliver varied schemes on time and within budget.