Libraries are our focus and passion!

Group3 Planners

…planning and designing libraries.

Libraries are our focus and passion!
We plan spaces for relevant, future-sensitive libraries.
We design interiors for enticing, welcoming and responsive libraries.
Libraries should always reflect the community they serve.

Group3 Planners is now part of Gulash Designs

Group3 Planners is now part of Gulash Designs Inc.  (GDi).  Since 2004 G3P has focused on library design with Mary Gulash executing the interior design of over 45 libraries, while still doing other types of interior design within her own company of GDi.  With the retirement of Sharon Rowlen from G3P, Mary has taken over the helm of G3P and has merged the two together.  Mary and GDi  still enjoy working with libraries and currently has 6 active library projects, as well as corporate design work.  Please contact Mary at or at 720-935-9701.

Thank you for your years of support!

Carnegie Library Remodel

We have been working with the Clear Creek Library District on the Idaho Springs Library—renovating a Carnegie Library.  After over 100 years—she is starting to look great again.  Furniture and shelving installation should be done by May—so more pictures to come.

Ford Warren Library Opens


The Ford Warren Library for Denver Public Libraries has opened after a remodel.  Working with the existing footprint, the library has been reinvented to better serve the public.  There is an emphasis on public computers for single use and team use.  There are also several private seating areas throughout the library for patrons to settle in at with a book, magazine or their own computer.

The children’s area has its own AWE computers; children scaled furniture and a whimsical nook for imagination

Here are a few quick shots.  I’ll let you know when the whole project is posted on our Flickr site.


Interiors:  Group3 Planners

Architect:  Humphries Polis Architects


Berthoud Library on the Move

Well, not really.  The library is staying in the same place—but look at  what we might be doing to the inside!

Recently we had a half day charette with the staff and board at the Berthoud Community Library.  They were looking for ways to improve their patron’s experience.  Using a quick sketch method, we were able to show and discuss several options to reposition their collections.  After a lively discussion, a final sketch was chosen.   Aside from the usual discussions of the relationship one collection to another, we consider construction costs, exterior access for additional children’s play area, multi use of the community room and split locations of service points for the staff.

We are now in the process of taking the sketch to a space plan—and continuing to work with the staff to move in that direction.

Non-Linear Wins Out!!

Sharon walking the staff through the new layout

Sometimes the inspiration is linear (the expected “next steps”) and sometimes it is decidedly non-linear.  In our charette with the Lafayette Public Library, we were focused on creating an arrangement of library spaces that would “better reflect the patron use and improve the interaction of the staff with patrons”.  The linear “next steps” might have meant playing with the location of the circ desk and perhaps the size of it, rearranging the layout of the shelving, and creating a couple more study rooms and even a meeting room.

Ah, but the non-linear proved to be the best solution by far:  Yes, we took some of the above steps, but we also proposed moving children’s to the upper floor to reside near Fiction…..and moving Non-Fiction into the former Children’s area!  That was definitely NOT linear.  Why was it the best solution?  It broke through all of our pre-conceived ideas about what we were going to do, and instead created a really cohesive layout.  It will work!  In fact, it will work “with benefits”!!

When a plan comes together like this one did, we revel in the way our clients take over the meeting, talking excitedly about all the ways it can work and what some of the challenges will be.  This was such a meeting.  It left us all smiling at each other with the satisfaction ofachieving something quite unexpected….and really good.

Exciting Plans at Platteville Public Library

Dianne Norgren, Director of the Platteville Public Library, has a new vision for the way her staff will provide main desk library services for the Platteville, Colorado residents . . . and she claims she would never have imagined the exciting plan that was designed during G3P’s fun and interactive I-Cubed session last week.

Diane and Circulation Supervisor Derek Werner were concerned that increased library usage was creating problems with staff “falling over each other” while helping patrons at the Circulation/Information desk.  They needed to take action, but wanted to do more than just increase space.  Dianne decided to look for some fresh ideas with Group3 Planners.

I-Cubed is G3P’s design charette.  The 3 “I”s stand for Imagine … what your library could be, Imprint … the image by
identifying elements, and Impact …the way your patrons and staff experience the library.  Bring together staff, library board members and G3P and the end result of the half-day or full-day process is a solution to the space problem.

In Platteville, the four-hour session not only provided a solution to the cramped quarters, it also provided a conceptual plan for an additional reading area for patrons, a break room for the staff, two study

G3P and staff at work during the Charette

Working session during Charette

rooms and an office for the Director!

Anythink in London!

Pam Sandlian-Smith shared the Anythink Libraries’ story at the “Rethinking Libraries?” – Axiell Symposium 2011, in London earlier this week. I watched her presentation online, smiling and nodding, as the story unfolded far beyond the architecture, layout and interior design (the last two by G3P), into the creation of Anythink as not just a library but a portal to “whatever one can anythink”! This philosophy permeated the staff, the way they thought about their positions and their customers, and began a revolution in the way customers experienced their library. Amazing. Our congratulations to the Anythink team, and our thanks for including us in your quest….we, too, loved being Geniuses, Wizards and Explorers! Take a look:  See more pictures of the Anythink Libraries on the Libraries tab on this G3P website.

August “Just 3 Things” and Up-Coming CAL!

“Just 3 Things”

The “Just 3 Things” Newsletter for August 2011 has just been posted (on the last day of August, no less!).  Check out the “Share” tab to find it, and then sign up for future issues if you find it informative, entertaining and worth while.  We are nearing 500 subscribers who apparently think it is all of those things!

As promised, there is an in-depth article on aligning libraries with the Net Generation, as well as what is new in furniture for the discriminating library and a feature on the award-winning, new Green Valley Ranch Branch Library (see pictures here on Flickr).  Good stuff!

We hope to see all of you at the up-coming Conference of the Colorado Association of Libraries in Loveland, Colorado, where we will have a booth and also be giving a half-day workshop entitled “Sell It…or Close It!”  We are excited about this workshop.  It is designed to help us face the changing role of libraries and become dynamic, innovative and responsive in the face of these changes.  We look forward to seeing you there!

The Net Generation…and their libraries

Because I am a planner, I tend to like to climb up “high”, ignoring the detail for the moment, in order to see the trends, look for patterns and directionality. I’m constantly looking for this type of “high” on the subject of libraries and their future. The sliced-and-diced-generations look is too narrow and detailed to get a good read (like the pun?) on where libraries might fit into tomorrow’s life styles, but looking at net geners (those born 1982 or later) is just about the perfect span of time, encompassing the technological shift impact on our culture.

I recently read a book called The Academic Library and the Net Gen Student, by Susan Gibbons. She focused on net gen students in higher education libraries, but I started thinking about net geners as adults and how they would expect to use the library. What kind of library would provide the value that net geners would support with their tax dollars? Are libraries of all kinds positioned to provide value to this generation and those that follow?

Public Libraries in the past few years have changed greatly, adding technology, becoming a community 3rd place that also has books instead of a warehouse for books, and providing online services at all hours. Will digitization of books and adoption of technology change it even more?

Academic libraries are reducing collections where the hard copy is redundant to the electronic copy, and converting that space into Learning Commons, community study areas, tutorial areas, bringing needed services for students within the physical library. They are also offering incredible interactivity on their web site and communicating via social media.

If net geners are expecting access to information as currently provided by the academic library described above, what will they expect from libraries post-graduation? Who are these net geners? What is important to them? To mention just a few characteristics, they are: possibly the best-educated in US history, sheltered and protected, confident and optimistic, team-oriented, time-constrained valuing speed over accuracy, highly comfortable with technology, convinced that they are “special”.

What will the net gener want in a future library when they are cultivating careers and raising families? I will be sharing more of my thoughts about trends and Susan Gibbons’ insights into this net generation in our next newsletter to be published first part of August. I invite you to sign up for the newsletter and to share your thoughts here.

Wright Farms Anythink Library named Landmark Library by Library Journal!!

Library Journal has named the new Wright Farms Anythink Library as one of the New Landmark Libraries. There are many aspects of this library to merit this designation; foremost, in our opinion, is the passion and commitment to customer experience on the part of the library’s leadership. We were privileged to work with them on the Humphries Poli Architects’ team, providing space planning, furniture and shelving selection and specification. We have actually worked on a total of four new libraries and three renovations for this dynamic library team. Pam and her team expressed over and over the importance of how their customers would use the space: the need for smaller reading spaces, the intended interruption of shelving to provide a customer-delight space, the attention to visibility and display of materials, the emphasis on convenience and efficiency. Together with the Rangeview design team, a great library experience emerged to please the community and challenge it to “Anythink”! Congratulations, team!

You will find pictures of this wonderful library via Flickr here, and the Library Journal announcement here.