Livingston County Opens New, Once-in-a-Generation Youth Library

Livingston County recently opened the doors to the new, Lillian DesMarias Youth Library. Located in Chillicothe, Missouri, this once-in-a-generation project offers the community an immersive destination for kids of all ages. Our team is proud to have led the design of this engaging environment.

The 10,450 SF building chosen to house the new library is a former Walgreens building, which provided a wide-open floorplan, offering a number of possibilities. We wanted to retain that openness, while still creating identifiable and relatable areas that appealed to patrons ranging in age from birth to 18.

We started by characterizing the kinds of guests who would visit the library and the spaces they would need. We then personalized those for each through the selection of furniture, materials, and finishes. For the early childhood demographic, we used playful house shapes with colorful dividers to define the story-time and sensory spaces, child-sized computer stations, and a series of house-shaped nooks that create a tunnel and offer a perfect place to snuggle up with a book.

The middle-school-aged readers have their own cozy corner of the library with comfortable lounge seating, colorful ottomans and a dry erase wallcovering offering the tween population a place to explore their creativity.

A lounge with an attached study room was designed for the teen guests. A custom wooden screen divides the space and provides a designated area for the teens to hold study groups, but allows for full visibility to the rest of the library. Neutral colors and textures were used in this area to provide the older demographic with more of a mature vibe.

The library has expanded collections for picture book readers, middle readers, and teens. In addition, the renovated facility has a youth computer lab, two study rooms, a dedicated teen study space, an Ellison room, a nursing room, a story-time room, a sensory room (with its own kiddo-sized door)and two program rooms. The Ellison room is a dedicated space for creativity and holds a series of Ellison shape-cutting machines and dies.

In addition to being functional, Livingston County wanted the new library to be a fun and whimsical place. To achieve their goal, we used a neutral color palette of gray, black and

white, then added bursts of color throughout the space. Colorful ceiling elements, dividers and house-shaped rooms offer playful alternatives to traditional solutions. Structural columns, which are necessary but are often seen as unattractive, have been covered to look like abstract trees.

Budget was another concern for library staff. By focusing on key elements, we were able to concentrate their budget to a few areas that make a big impact. We also used cost-effective materials like multiple colors of paint and carpet to add interest, without increasing the cost.

Let’s transform your library into a fun and engaging space. Contact us at to schedule a virtual or in-person meeting and learn more about our process.

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