The new library is larger, more functional and safer for residents to use daily.

So many avid readers were moving into an Arizona independent and assisted living community that its owner decided to create a new library.

“We had outgrown the original library,” said Teri Azlin, activities manager at McDowell Village, a 207-unit WESTliving senior living community in Scottsdale, AZ. “We had residents who wanted to bring books with them when they moved in and voracious readers who enjoyed buying and sharing books. We needed to expand.”

Residents and staff of McDowell Village worked with interior designer Bonnie J. Lewis of 55+ TLC Interior Design to plan the conversion of an underutilized common space into a working library that was not only larger but also more functional and safer for residents to use daily.

“The residents had specific needs and wants we had to design for,” Lewis said. “The project called for abundant lighting to make looking for new books and reading more enjoyable, and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, adjustable bookcases so books could be shelved at mid-level heights to prevent library users from reaching too low or too high for the books they were interested in reading.”

The project added 1,288 linear feet of book space to McDowell Village’s library, enabling the senior living community to accept more personal book donations from residents. The room is more than just a storage area, however; the design also includes two seating areas and a built-in desk that allow residents to read or chat with one another.

Some residents who formerly kept to themselves now bring newspapers to the library to read, according to staff members.

“This project is an ideal example of how expertly designed senior living communities can improve the quality of life for residents,” Lewis said. The library project recently earned her a Design Excellence Award in the senior living category from the North Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.