Skip to Main Content

School Library Design: Lighting & Electricity

Lighting in Libraries

Keep in mind that people can be sensitive to lighting, and you will want to vary the lighting levels for different uses of the space as well as different user preferences. To support universal design, use variable lighting, like dimming, lamps, and multiple switches, that allows you to control the light level of the space.

LED lighting at the Hugh Faringdon School

Artistic lighting at PS189 in Manhattan


"Lighting has long been a key environmental issue in schools. In a 1986 article on the common pitfalls of library building programs, Robert Rohlf states, 'The area in which most mistakes are made in library planning is lighting.' Eric Rockwell, in his article about the 'sins of architects,' notes, 'Lighting in most libraries ranges from marginal to atrocious.' These and similar statements, heard repeatedly at professional conferences and found frequently in the professional literature, attest to the fact that lighting may well be the number-one problem in library design. Lighting systems for new school library facilities are often overlooked by school librarians, and under emphasized by architects. Because we now know that lighting affects people both psychologically and physically, and that the quality of light affects performance and the quality of learning, we must pursue the goal of achieving a high-quality lighting design for the school library."

- by Rolf Erikson and Carolyn Markuson from Designing a School Library Media Center for the Future

NYCPS is committed to creating and supporting learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City. To ensure that our website serves the needs of everyone, it follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA. That means the sites work for people with disabilities, including those who are blind and partially sighted. We are committed to creating accessible digital experiences for all website visitors. If you require assistance with any documents on our site, please email