The modern school library is a multipurpose, flexible facility. At any one moment there is a class of students under instruction, a group ‘studying quietly’, people researching on digital devices, and a bookworm escaping to a fictional world. Alongside the library’s traditional purpose, the space is now required to function as a classroom, a breakout zone, and a digital research centre.
The design of good acoustics in libraries, contrary to popular belief, is not to lower noise levels, but rather to enable effective communication in areas where it is required, and reduce disruption in areas where concentration and quiet contemplation are needed.
Acoustics are important because of the way they impact children’s learning environments by eliminating noises and distractions.
In the modern multipurpose library, best practice includes a full coverage acoustic ceiling and acoustic wall coverings on walls and partitions around focused work areas, offering a change in colour and absorption to reduce the reverberated sound energy.
When there is a mix of people who want to read alone and people who want to work in groups, you’d want an environment that absorbs sound rather than intensifies it.
Wall-mounted acoustic wall coverings let people in libraries have their peace and quiet by dampening, softening, and redistributing sounds. Unlike hard, reflective surfaces, acoustic wall coverings can trap and contain sharp sound waves, reducing background noise and minimising echoes. This design encourages social interaction while creating a calm, relaxing ambience.