• Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    Which Vision of the Future will best describe your library?

    There are good reasons to do a library plan at the end of the year (Join us Dec 13, 2019 @ Steelcase). It is a good time to get plans started and prepare for the future. The key performance indicators for any library service and/or library staffing project should be defined before the boss asks how much money do you need next year. Our approach is straightforward and easy to understand – Join Us & Get Ahead of the Curve.

    We developed our library planning workshop at Steelcase Worklife almost 20 years ago. Each year, we would hold discussions about the future of the library and participants share stories about their recent projects and the things they wanted to do.

    Over the years, the workshop addressed the need for Quiet and Collaborative, Makerspaces and Flexible Environments. We discussed the information commons, learning commons and the need for books in the library. We shared examples about the changes we witnessed in the library environment – new computer workstations, self check out technology, RFID, and tablets, Ipads and the Andriod revolution in Smartphones. If things were changing, we were discussing it at our Annual Library Planning Workshop.

    Today the lack of planning can distort how the user experience is delivered and whether your library is focusing on the right things. Join Us on December 13, 2019 at Steelcase Worklife – share your vision of the library of the future…

    Share your ideas how the library can be a dynamic learning space, community and cultural space.

  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Library Planning Workshop NYC Dec 13, 2019

    Join Us Friday, December 13, 2019 from 9:30am – 4pm – at Steelcase Worklife
    $295 per person – full day workshop, workbook and tour.

    One Day Workshop to Program Your Library, Develop New Digital Literacy Services, Create Learning Spaces & Long Term Facility Planning Efforts

    The development of library services and spade for higher education, health science, K-12, research and museum space is a challenging task. Our clients regularly ask us to share our knowledge about learning spaces, flexibility, and planning for the integration of technology and design.

    Our workshop attendees are normally people who have projects that are either in pre-planning or at the implementation stage.

    During the session, participants will learn our library planning metrics. They will do exercises and learn from case studies developed over our 48 year history including academic, public, government, medical, law and special libraries. Workshops include examples of: library program measurements, project management, service point design, data analytics, logistics and budget / capital management

    During this workshop:

      We encourage clients to network and provide feedback learn about their needs.

      We will share the five modes of learning and tour the NYC Worklife to show how furniture support each mode (social, collaborative, reflective, presentation, touch-point).

      We will share programmatic considerations for implementing a shared research space on campus or in an education and healthsciences community

      We will help connect programming goals to support design choices

      We will share examples of library+education+healthscience+research space designs

    Our expert presenters bring experience from multiple projects to the table. Their firsthand knowledge will help answer your library planning and research space questions to move your project forward.



  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    Appreciative Inquiry and Library Planning

    Appreciative Inquiry has been described as an affirmative approach to change management. It is a cooperative search for the best parts of the library building, service and organization. It involves a systematic discovery of what gives a library or library system life.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD applies this concept on both small- and large-scale library projects. We follow the following steps to determine the existing conditions of a library and its future needs:

    1. Discover: We provide workshops on library planning, engaging stakeholders in a series of workshops. We study the potential for positive change and seek to understand the culture and character of the library. Our questions help reveal the present state and the future potential.
    2. Dream: Our plans start as a bubble diagram suggesting proximity and relative sizes of areas. What gives life to this area? What functions need to be adjacent? How much space should be allowed for different services?
    3. Design: Library plans will show the footprint: the area that the library occupies on the site. Some architects will show book stacks, tables, chairs and staff work equipment at this stage. We call these program tests.
    4. Deliver: A Library Service Planis a vital planning tool. Ideally, each piece of furniture and equipment is drawn on the plan in an early phase, since shapes of functional areas are often set at this stage. Capacities for books and seating in each functional area is calculated and approved by the library director, staff, administration, etc.

    Here are some sample questions to ask when reviewing a plan:

    • When users enter the library, can they understand the layout?
    • What are the strengths of the space?
    • Are books visible and arranged in a clear and simple order?
    • What are the existing conditions? What works?
    • Are functions arranged so that you walk through the noisy area to the quiet area?
    • What is the best part of the library?


    library consultant planning process

  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Demographics and Library Planning

    One aspect of developing a space plan is understanding the demographics of a community. A building program comparing present and future space needs is created when we have a good understanding of how the community is changing. Some factors to consider:

    Population projections for the next twenty years: This will obviously have an impact on space use; if growth is projected, it should be a consideration for future design.

    Education: An education level of high school or above often correlates with higher library usage in populations of the same size. The US Census (American fact finder) reports can detail the percentage of people over the age of 25 who have completed high school or college. This can be a good indicator of the needs of the community and a first step to consider how the community is evolving.

    Median family income levels and percentage employment. For example: if unemployment is high, space and service needs may be affected as more patrons visit the library for employment information or to develop resume building skills.

    Below is an example of an interactive story time program. When we studied this library and its demographics, we saw growth in the number of families with children in the area. This helped us determine the needs for a larger children’s library.

    Want more information about how we can help? – click here –


  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    Use of Color in Library Planning

    Color can be a way to define and complement the learning spaces in a library. We can consider the combination of colors and tone of the space, allowing us to overlay our learning modes (social, collaborative, presentation, touch point, reflective) and improve the learning environment.

    According to Aaron Cohen Associates, ltd, there are four basic color schemes: colorless, monochromatic, related, and contrasting.

    • In the colorless scheme, only black and white are used. In this scheme, only the natural colors of the building elements are use.
    • In the monochromatic scheme, only one color is used – alone or alongside black and white.
    • In the related color scheme we use the colorwheel to define the space. For example, we might suggest earth tones – rust, orange, brown and yellow.
    • In the contrasting color scheme, the designer positions opposite colors in different zones. If the colors are too vibrant, a little bit of white or a neutral color can be used as a bridge to create a contrasting effect.
    • Considering a library redesign? Consult with experienced library programmers and designers. CONTACT AARON COHEN LIBRARY CONSULTANT

    Libraries can be difficult to design. Start to understand the color scheme for your library space. Is it cold? are there hard surfaces? do the colors enhance the behavior in the space?

    library design

  • Library Planning Research

    Future Planning and the Psychology of Change

    The psychology of change is an important aspect of library planning.  Dr. Lawrence L. Lippitt notes that  Preferred Futuring  has “the power to change whole systems; envision the future you want and unleash the energy to get there.” This can be useful for teams, organizations and communities within a library project.

    Preferred Futuring helps teams, organiziations, or communities construct a future they want and mobilize the energy to reach it. Anyone who is facing change of any kind should be aware of, and be prepared to deal with, the following effects:

    Change is not always the group consensus. Some changes are beneficial; other are not. Change is especially difficult when you don’t have a future vision. In preferred futuring, groups establish a common understanding of who they are and what success looks like. Our library planning methodology establishes the goals and vision for the project, based on stakeholder input and the strengths of the institution.

    Change may bring uncertainty. As we gather data, we combine the future needs and the existing conditions. Stakeholders are solicited to participate and provide feedback. We never know the outcome of a plan until the data gathering is complete.

    Change causes stimulation. The construction of a new library service or space can bring turmoil; and if the process is not handled well, it can often stall. We harness knowledge and resources directed toward results. Typical outcomes include increased utilization of the library, sustainable future/staff service models, and improve library space and services.

    Change may increase staff work. If not done carefully, it can bring about some unintended results. For example, a library director may envision greater productivity from the staff, but they end up dealing with the unintended consequences of an ineffective library program/service plan. Change Can also increase morale and cooperation! Not all change means there is something to worry about. We have had many successful projects by supporting strong leadership who understood the power of planning.

    library consultant methods

  • Library Planning Research

    Add a Programmer to Develop a Next-Level Library

    As today’s libraries evolve to meet changing user needs, their spaces must evolve too. Often, project teams need to assemble and perform in a short window of time; this requires construction management to add subject-specific consultants. Architects working on a library project should always consider adding a programming specialist like Aaron Cohen Associates to the team. Our work provides many benefits:

    • Increased knowledge of existing services, spaces, and staff
    • New service ideas
    • New service point options
    • Reconfiguration of shelving for modern display and popular browsing
    • Potential for new staff space
    • Digital transformation
    • Net-to-gross square feet considerations

    We work closely with both the design team and the library stakeholders to analyze and understand the functional needs of library users. Our knowledge of staffing, space planning, and library technology is a vital component of the work.

    Our team has worked on many important libraries: University of Chicago, National Library of Singapore, Harvard University Medical Center, Tulane University and many more. Contact us today to find out how we can help maximize the outcome on your project.



  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Space Planning

    Wandering Patrons? Signage is the Solution

    One of the most frustrating experiences for any library patron is being unsure where to go, be it for services, collections, checkout, or programs. Signage is the solution.

    A “walkthrough,” or what we call a Visual Scan, is a vital part of developing sign locations in the library. Whether in an actual facility or via floor plans, assume the role of a visitor. Every point along the patron’s path that requires a decision must be satisfied by one of the five sign types:

    1. Orientation and Information
    2. Directions
    3. Identification
    4. Prohibitory and Warning
    5. Official Notices

    The most effective way to do this (and communicate it to a vendor/architect/contractor/builder) is to mark the sign locations on a set of AutoCAD files of the exterior and interior of the building using circled numbers. The circled numbers become a series of consecutive sign numbers for use in the bid document. Start at the parking and/or entrance, then proceed from floor to floor.

    Signs are indicated at right angles to direction of traffic and are identified by a single line for one-sided signs and a double line for double-faced signs.

    At this point in the process be concerned only with the typesof sign needed at the location, not with actual content.

    library signage
    Improving signage is a simple but effective way to increase patron satisfaction. It will help identify areas for improvement and library staff / operational efficiency. Contact our LIBRARY CONSULTANTS for more ways to improve  your library space!

    library consultant
    Library Consultant – Contact US

    Suggestions for your strategic planning analysis includes:

  • Determining the sign locations
  • Analyze flooring to define the pathway
  • Define the location of the library information point and self service hubs
  • Develop a brand architecture with images to support library signage assessments
  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    The Library’s Newest Role: Remote Office

    Libraries serve an important role in today’s digital world: they offer a work space for those without a traditional office. Collaboration is a key service used by today’s patrons. Shared work space, such as WeWork, provides startups and small businesses with the tools for success; libraries can offer the same service in their communities. Library consultants help you determine the potential of your information services.

    According to Medium.com,  Library Visits Have Gone Way Up Over the Last Two Decades.Many people do not have a traditional office, but need the amenities and tools of the modern world: computers, wi-fi, printers, scanners and meeting space. Corporations and governments are rethinking the working environment; libraries should respond by developing a responsive library service program.

    Library consultants help you understand the requirements for different users and outline the strategies to increase the value of services. Most importantly, such a program can help meet the needs of the groups and individuals in the community. We always look to future needs, because change is constant in our world. A lot of people want to know how to do library programming; besides service point / touch point (circulation/reference desk) services, library consultants help define digital components, web sites, branding, research services, ILL, makespaces, STEM and much more.

    Certainly, the impact of sustainable collection strategies and the use of data to create more responsive library services is a trend in library science. Indeed, we strive to incorporate new library service standards into our work. This includes new strategies that leverage information provided by  GreenGlass and Hathitrust. More detailed data means we can program responsive spaces, adding new ideas like STEM programs and accessible work space.



  • Library Planning Research

    Considering Library Improvements? Let Patrons Be Your Guide

    In spite of ever-advancing technology, libraries must still offer human contact and a fast and easy “customer experience.” People don’t want to search endlessly for what they want: the library space plan should steer you to what you want quickly. For example, there should be intuitive places to sit and read; to talk with friends; to research a topic. Library spaces can be challenging: is the quiet seating too close to the teen area, for example? Is the children’s space clearly delineated and safe?

    Aaron Cohen Associates has studied patron behavior in libraries for many years. Today, there is still a need to focus on service, even in an increasingly digital world. We start with a needs assessment to help us understand a library’s culture and values. We then develop an existing program (what the library currently offers, and where) to help the stakeholders understand the issues. Next, we create a building program: a roadmap to the future. It will incorporate all the information we have learned through our studies and dialogue.

    For over 45 years, we have developed building programs and needs assessments for libraries (public, academic, research), learning centers, and historic institutions. Our research helps define the interaction opportunities (displays, touchpoints, service desks, etc.), and we offer service options focusing on information literacy, staffing models and more. Our knowledge of automation—including library systems and storage/preservation requirements—can help support library and archival experiences.

    Here are some ways we can help:
    1. Facilitate Data Gathering
    2. Program the Existing Library
    3. Plan for Possible Futures
    4. Design Test Fits/Conceptual Design
    5. Digital Library Services & Integration

    We also do workshops on library planning and knowledge management services. CONTACT US to find out how we can help you!


     library consultant