Frank Allen on Designing a 21st-Century Library | Episode 15

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Welcome back to the Agati Video Podcast, a space where Joe Agati, COO & Director of Design here at Agati Furniture, hosts conversations with designers, architects, and difference-makers to bring inspiration and education to your work.

“It got to the point that we needed not just a renovated library, but a reconstructed library.” – Frank Allen

For today’s episode of the podcast, we have the opportunity to talk with Frank Allen, Senior Associate Director of the John C Hitt Library at the University of Central Florida. Frank has been at UCF since 1998 and has involvement with the CORE division of the American Library Association. He also previously served as co-editor for a resource guide on planning library buildings and learning spaces. He’s an expert and we’re honored to have him here on the podcast!

In this episode, we talk about the decades-long rebuilding process of the John C Hitt Library, creating a 21st-century library, what trends Frank has noticed from students in recent years, what they’ve learned about the importance of durability, and so much more.

This was a great conversation. Check it out!




  • “UCF has experienced enormous growth in enrollment and in stature since the early 1990s.”
  • “It got to the point that we needed not just a renovated library, but a reconstructed library.”
  • “This is a 10+ year project.”
  • “We took study rooms and instead created study alcoves.”
  • “We look at some of these pieces and think, ‘How long is this really going to last?'”
  • “For 30 days, I tracked by hand where people were actually sitting in the space.”
  • “It’s important to select seating based on your goals for the space.”
  • “We’re still putting desktops out there, and the students tell us they like them.”
  • “The library is a lot of things… It’s a place to see and be seen.”
  • “The resource lending desk is by far the service desk with the most heavy traffic.”
  • “The length of time that students remain in the building is increasing.”
  • “You have to listen to your students.”

Our Key Takeaways:

1) Access to power and quiet individual seating is crucial. During our conversation, Frank highlighted that both of these seem to be things that they can’t get enough of. You likely can relate!

2) Predicting field performance can be a challenge. When choosing furniture, it’s important to find solutions that are tried and tested. Durability is one of the most important considerations for public spaces.

3) You have to balance the needs of your students now, and the future goals you’re leading towards. Especially with a project like they’re doing at UCF, we loved hearing Frank talk about the delicate balance of meeting students with what they need now, while maintaining the long-term goals of the library space they’re creating.

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