Proper lighting in libraries aids concentration

By: Secom
25 de April, 2022
Reading time: 5 min

When planned and implemented correctly, library lighting can satisfy a range of important needs including creating the proper conditions for reading, research and study. After all, this is what libraries are for! A good lighting project takes into account technical, organisational and aesthetic considerations and facilitates visual comfort and energy efficiency.

In this article we will talk about...

  • Library lighting considerations
  • The benefits of LED lighting in libraries
  • Specialist products from SECOM

Libraries have evolved in recent decades to become multidisciplinary facilities providing a range of offline and digital content. Some also have areas with audiobooks, and these need their own lighting and ambience.

Library lighting considerations

A great library lighting system can considerably improve study conditions and the quality of the space. A coherent combination of direct and indirect light creates suitable spaces for reading and study and supports extensive periods working with books or on a computer.

Exploiting natural light

A building design incorporating large windows lets in natural light, which supports reading and is a mood booster. That said, the local climate or building structure may not allow for hours and hours of sunlight. Lighting devices can provide artificial light in combination with natural light when needed and their output can be adjusted to suit.

Natural light is the best lighting source for reading and studying. It also has a positive impact on visual comfort in hallways, staircases and other transit, meeting or rest areas. When natural light is not available, it must be substituted in the most suitable and comfortable way possible.

Adequate lighting level

Luminaires in libraries should provide 200 lux at bookshelves, 500 lux in reading areas and a uniformity ratio of 0.60. A UGR of less than 16/19 coupled with the use of suspended lighting, moveable floor lamps and additional table lamps can prevent glare. A colour rendering index of 80 or above is recommended. Lit signage and emergency lighting should also be factored in.

Luminarias bibliotecas

Light temperature for reading

A light temperature of between 4000 and 5000K ensures the atmosphere in reading zones is not too warm. Otherwise, reading becomes more difficult and users may lose concentration or become sleepy.

Visual comfort

This comes back to glare prevention and a UGR below 16/19. Microprismatic diffusers can also prevent direct and reflected glare and are very effective at workstations with IT equipment or tables with a particularly shiny surface.


Planning the lighting points

An in-depth study of the library design and of the location of each reading or study station will enable each lighting point to be identified. Natural light can be fully exploited and combined with artificial lighting to facilitate the user experience and provide adequate working conditions for library employees.

It is also possible to design specific lighting for specific areas. The colour of walls, ceilings and furniture should also be factored in to any lighting project.

Current regulations

EU standard UNE 12464.1 on indoor lighting applies here. It recommends both quantitative and qualitative compliance with two important aspects:

  • Visual comfort
  • Colour rendering

The regulation also covers maintenance, the lifespan of materials and devices, and even cleaning.

Luminarias bibliotecas

The benefits of LED lighting in libraries

There are many reasons why LED lighting has become the prevailing choice in libraries across the world. Not only do they provide excellent lighting quality and visual comfort, they save energy and are long-lasting, easy to maintain and suitable for integration with lighting systems and with other devices.

Preventing visual fatigue

LED technology reduces visual fatigue and improves conditions for reading, research and prolonged study.


Supporting concentration

Cool colour temperatures boost concentration and reduce the effort required to concentrate compared with other lighting devices.

Energy savings

LEDs enable savings of up to 80 % with respect to conventional lighting systems.

Reducing maintenance costs

As well as less energy, LEDs require less maintenance. They are easy to clean and have a long useful life.

Bibliotecas iluminación

Specialist products from SECOM

The SECOM range includes great solutions for libraries from both a technical and aesthetic perspective. Here are a few examples:

  • Aliket. A continuous line lighting system designed for business spaces and facilities such as libraries which have high footfall.
  • Eslim UGR<19. This indoor panel light provides excellent glare control and energy efficiency and is another great solution for work areas, offices or public buildings with high footfall.
  • Cubic. An indoor panel LED that provides uniform, comfortable light and is suitable for the rest and relaxation areas in libraries, for example.
  • Aircom Medium. An indoor downlight LED system for business and home spaces. Very energy efficient and durable.
  • Loop. Similar to the Aircom Medium, this indoor downlight LED system is ideal for business, industrial or home spaces.

Irrespective of how much natural light a library exploits, the costs associated with prolonged lighting use impact most libraries. Our LED products constitute a more efficient and cheaper solution and can be equipped with additional features such as presence sensors and timers.

Incorporating these products into a library lighting system will ensure optimal lighting performance for the people who use the library and those who work there.

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