Jeff Hoover on the History of Library Design and Designing for Human Behavior & Community Dynamics | Episode 5

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.

“How do we shape environments that encourage people to behave certain ways in certain places?”
– Jeff Hoover

Jeff Hoover has been doing library planning and design at Tappé Architects since 1984. Today he is a Principal at the firm and has recently been Chair of the Architecture for Public Libraries Committee for the ALA. Jeff is a good friend of ours here at Agati, and it’s an honor to be able to have him on the show.

Jeff has a long history in the industry, a huge passion for the work, and quite the story of how he got into this space in the first place. In this imagery-rich conversation, Jeff shares about the history of library design, how the role of libraries has shifted, designing for human behavior and community dynamics, and where he sees the industry going.

We really loved this conversation, and we look forward to hearing what stands out most to you!



  • “A daylit environment is immeasurably better in helping people learn and retain knowledge.”

  • “A successful, welcoming, inclusive library can do so much for a community.”

  • “In the ’80s, the books had pushed the people out of the buildings… We don’t see libraries planning their collections the same way anymore.”

  • “How do we shape environments that encourage people to behave certain ways in certain places?”

  • “It takes a lot more to create overall comfort than simply the pad of a chair.”

  • “The challenge is compounded because you have to accommodate people who ordinarily wouldn’t cross paths or prefer to spend time together, in the same space.”

  • “There is a process to help us understand what a community aspires to.”

Our Key Takeaways:

1) Libraries have shifted over the last few decades to more intentionally support communities. The role of libraries is no longer just about books. It’s also about providing space for people to connect, work, and collaborate. This has been a healthy shift with significant implications on design.

2) It takes intentionality to develop a space that truly makes people feel safe, seen, and comfortable. Furniture, architecture, spacing, functionality, and so much more all work together to develop a cohesive and welcoming environment for a community.

3) It’s not just about designing for where a community is; it’s about designing for what a community aspires to be. This was a fascinating portion of the conversation and we loved hearing Jeff’s perspective on the process overall. 

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