Today’s public libraries serve a broader community role than just the supply of reading and study materials. Libraries now exist as places where multiple generations can come together for cultural growth, enrichment lectures and events, job searching, learning a new skill, and much more.

The City of Dover contracted with Robert H. Rohlf Associates, a library consulting firm, to evaluate library services in the city. The study indicated that the existing Dover Public Library’s services were severely lacking and strongly recommended a new library facility be constructed in downtown Dover. A year later, the Delaware state library system commissioned another consultant to draft a strategic plan, which suggested that one “Anchor Library” be designated for each county—and that Dover Public Library be the anchor library for Kent County.

An anchor library is designed to be a full resource for the county it’s located in. Usually between 40,000 and 60,000 square feet, these libraries are charged with the mission of providing strong collections of materials that meet the research and popular reading needs of the public as well as provide support for other county libraries. Anchor libraries are also required to provide computer training facilities as well as meeting and conference rooms for library and public usage.

While it was required to provide all of these things, the Dover Public Library wanted to do even more for its community. A dynamic children’s learning environment, adequate space for teen enrichment, and an expansion of literacy and ESL (English as a Second Language) programs were of high priority as well, as Dover was a city that was experiencing a rapidly diversifying population.

The new library would be a 46,000 square foot library in the middle of downtown Dover with very little room for future expansion, so it was important that the library have all of the space it needed for both current collections and anything additional the library might acquire.


The library planning committee and the architect for the new building, Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, called on DSSI to gain insight on efficient and organized library storage.

Working with another Spacesaver® authorized distributor, Modern Office Systems, DSSI designed shelving and storage for the space that would fit their goals for each of the library’s specific initiatives. In the children’s learning area, cantilever library shelving was built at an age-appropriate height, so younger readers could access books easily and bring them to a separate reading area. In the main spaces of the library where the lighting was dim, DSSI worked to install canopy lighting attached to the cantilever bookshelves.


In another part of the library, a compact library shelving was installed to compact library shelving to make space for collaborative areas. The mechanical-assist control meant the system could be easily opened and closed by users of all ages, and the end-panels of the system were also designed to match the color palette and patterns of the library.

In addition to creating enough space for a large multipurpose room, extensive children’s section with storytelling area, and dedicated Teen Loft section, compact library shelving helped the Dover Library achieve LEED Gold Certification by creating a facility that uses 46% less energy and 40% less water than traditional buildings of its size—all while increasing the library’s collection from 120,000 to 160,000 items.

The new facility allows Dover Public Library to be the community hub that it wanted to be—meeting the needs of both the library and the community.

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Just like Dover Public Library, Rutgers University needed to compact their library book storage in order to make room for the changing needs of students. Take a look at how a compact library storage system helped them combine two levels of book volumes into one.