• Library Planning Research

    Know Your Library’s Value—and Make Sure the University Does, Too

     

    To remain a vital partner in a University’s mission, academic libraries need to communicate their value. According to ACRL’s academic library impact report,” academic libraries need to strategically evolve to support student learning and success; they must effectively communicate the library’s value. This communication is a vital step when competing for resources within funding and governance structures both in and outside the academic institution.”

    Based on findings from the report, ACRL members identified six priority areas where academic librarians can build a case for the library:

    1. Communicate the library’s contributions.
      2. Match library assessment to institution’s mission.
      3. Include library data in institutional data collection.
      4. Quantify the library’s impact on student success.
      5. Enhance teaching and learning.
      6. Collaborate with educational stakeholders.

    For example, does your President or Provost recognize that the library can provide a common point for collaboration between students and faculty? Or that libraries can have an impact on student retention? According to Megan Oakleaf for the Association of College and Research Libraries – Value of Academic Library Report(ACRL), “Librarians in universities, colleges, and community colleges can establish, assess, and link academic library outcomes to institutional outcomes regarding student enrollment, retention and graduation rates, student success, student achievement, student learning, student engagement, faculty research productivity, faculty teaching, service, and overarching institutional quality.” Her report emphasizes  that libraries are learning communities.They can support a return on investment campaign (i.e. for each $1 spent on an academic library you get a specific benefit in return).

    Libraries without a library master plan or library facility analysis don’t know how to communicate their value and need help crafting a plan. They need to study how to utilize the spaces and increase support for multiple stakeholders: librarians, faculty, administration and students. Academic libraries need to outline the ways that a new design will provide a better return on investment.

    A master plan is an important catalyst for change. Left without a plan, environments will not grow organically or enhance student success effectively. The master planning process facilitates improvements to libraries, buildings and systems. It provides a narrative and program that can be used to attain optimal service and capital expenditures.

    How We Can Help

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD specializes in academic library assessments. We ask the challenging questions and show clients how to communicate the value of the academic library. We help develop new strategic/organizational programs, but our real strength lies in an understanding that the library is truly “for the people.” As an organization of learning spaces with staff and resources nearby, the library impacts the learning outcomes on campus.

    To better understand what makes the academic library valuable, we developed a framework to analyze the library planning variables. First, ask: what matters? What is really important to the stakeholders? In effect, this is a simple question that can be complex to answer. To be sure, there will always be librarians who make sure the book still has a place in the library, and others that make sure that it is a dynamic space. We have worked with all types of librarians on academic master planning projects, and their integrity and passion for learning translates into good library programming, which increases value.

    We can help communicate ways to improve and thus generate a good return on investment for your academic library. ACA’s success is the result of our program and planning methodology, developed over several decades. It is based on 47 years of management studies and program models that have been tuned to the needs of the 21st century library.

    For over a decade, Alex Cohen, MLS has led efforts to build simple program reports with recommendations. Based on ACA’s five learning modes (social, presentation, collaborative, reflective, touchpoint), he provides clients with clear, relevant recommendations that best serve students, faculty and staff. It can be used as a stand-alone program or as part of a larger study to help decision making, improving the return on investment for library space and services in the 21st century.

    CONTACT US

     

     

  • Library Planning Research

    The Library Program: a Vital First Step in Design

    Aaron Cohen Associates’  library programs have improved the design of libraries worldwide, integrating architecture, IT and service. A program is the first step in the conceptual design process; it is vital to give it time and attention. As part of our program work, we build connections between people, facilitate workshops and offer solutions for space and service challenges. 

    A library program outlines where seating, computers, lounge seats and group study area are placed. They also show where the library provides circulation and reference services. The seating spaces can be social, collaborative, or quiet and have adaptable furniture.

    The library program can have a profound influence on the quality of your library environment. It is important that a program is adaptable, able to respond to the changing needs of patrons. In addition, careful choices of furniture and lighting can enhance and modernize your space. Here are some factors to consider when developing a program:

    • Make sure your program and planning documents are easy to read and free from complex solutions.
    • If you are considering new seating, test the library space. We recommend self-sustaining scenarios/solutions and interventions. Demo the furniture, ask users what they think, run a library planning workshop, etc.
    • Ensure your library design accentuates natural light and fresh air.
    • Try to incorporate flexible, stackable furniture and moveable walls to maximize flexibility. Spaces should serve multiple purposes when possible.
    • Avoid fabrics, soft furnishings and broad-loom carpets; these materials make it harder to keep the library clean.
    • Use a variety of lighting: spotlights, up-lighters and diffused lighting controlled with dimmer switches can provide flexibility for different functions.
    • Provide book walls with plenty of new books to add more energy to your library.
    • Organize sufficient storage space to keep all equipment, last copy and special collections, so that work surfaces are clear and free.
    • Ask lots of questions, listen to your users and explore their vision.
  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Aaron Cohen Library Consultant Experience

    Despite being just 47 years ago, Aaron Cohen Associates, Ltd has snagged commissions in high-profile library projects that any consulting business in the world would envy.

    Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and Alex Cohen, MLS (library consultant) is aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; The Cohen’s credit their library, archive and IT planning experiences with bringing awareness to user needs, bold methodologies that provide data / information and a diversity of experiences that help solve problems for our clients.

    The firm was founded in 1972 by Aaron Cohen, AIA and Elaine Cohen, Med, where the two developed an architectural design business. Their firms first project was a library planning workshop for the federal government. Soon after they went on to develop over 1,000 academic, public, school, government and special libraries — and there the practice grew to include their son Alex Cohen, MLS . The team is based in the New York Hudson Valley with clients around the world.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD frequently experiments with library architecture and IT solutions, a theme we focus on includes adaptive library design — Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD – 5 modes of learning and user characterization studies keeps it fresh by staying pragmatically flexible i.e. we design our models based on the behavior of the user.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    Is Your Digital System Draining Productivity?

    Modern organizations often pride themselves on usage of digital material—but poor management of IT content  and digital knowledge resources can actually reduce productivity. Some IT databases are not designed for today’s communication needs, and user interfaces can be confusing. Despite being “modern,” these systems do not automatically improve productivity. 

    Our library consulting team can perform an IT healthcheck. Our planning methodology can be applied to reorganizing digital assets, just as we help our clients reorganize physical space. We can support the end user regardless of whether the library is physical or virtual.

    As with a physical space, the IT systems require regular review. Are they serving the user? Are they as efficient and effective as they should be? An IT healthcheck will help your team to better serve your company’s objectives. 

    We can provide an assessment and recommendations that will simplify complex IT systems. We can offer short-term gains and define long-term improvements to the IT database, platform and system. 

    Contact us today to get started!

    IT Healthcheck – Contact Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD

  • Library Planning Research

    Modern Libraries: Overlooked No More

    Imagine a space that could serve as a launchpad for collaboration and socialization, while also offering resources for students, faculty and researchers.  The good news: this space already exists on campus. It is the library.

    Libraries have long histories of campus neglect; many provosts and presidents consider them to be little more than book shelving areas. But an intelligent redesign can transform the space into the essential resource it is meant to be. Another plus: in a time when it is easy to become lost in electronic devices, libraries can increase collaboration and socialization through careful design. Today, a larger proportion of library space focuses on integrating learning labs, flexible bar areas, comfortable furniture and collaborative seating.

    When planning the interior design of the space, furniture and shelving layouts should come before lighting, outlets and access points. According to Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD the Library Consultant should be responsible for planning the furniture and equipment. We will test initial floor plans with preliminary layouts of furniture, so the floor plans can be easily adjusted to match the client’s needs exactly.

    The furniture and equipment for a research library should harmonize with the architecture and align with the program, providing a comfortable, inviting environment. Furnishings should have not just beauty, but durability and ease of maintenance. (Take a look at the Babson College Horn Library Project)

    Ready to refresh your library? Contact us!

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    Resolve to Update Your Library in 2019

    As time and technology advance, a library must keep pace with community needs. It may be time to develop a strategic or master plan, or to undertake a review and redesign to modernize a space. ACA can leverage our decades of experience to guide stakeholders through the process and ensure a good outcome.

    The first step is to look at existing space and services.  What services are offered—or not offered? What needs to be added? What needs to be left behind?

    To make these decisions, we focus on future needs, such as social collaboration, reference and technology access. Then, we develop a program and design that will meet these needs, following a timeline and phases with specific milestones.

    ACA will work with you to:

    • Review existing conditions: space, service and staff.
    • Consider future needs and ways to fill in the gaps: more collaborative space? Fewer print titles? More programming rooms?
    • Develop a program and design to meet the needs and modernize the space.

    Want more information? Contact Us!

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    To Be More Effective, Harness the Power of Data

    Data visualization can offer unique insight into a health sciences organization. This important work involves both healthcare professionals and the IT teams that provide communications platforms and support. Recently, we analyzed the digital asset management (DAM) needs of a global healthcare corporation. We learned that corporations need to integrate software, company culture and library skills. Healthcare libraries often present a complex mix of evidence-based research and user support; we shared the ways a librarian’s expertise could be leveraged to increase effectiveness and communication.

    The following are a few lessons learned from our digital asset management project:

    • Without a digital library to share content, visualization is difficult to generate or coordinate
    • Marketing teams can use data visualization as a way to improve coordination across the enterprise
    • When information is not shared across the enterprise, it creates silos of content that is often lost and not re-used

    To capitalize on visualization opportunities at your organization, consider these four steps:

    1. Reflect on the unique and distinctive aspectsof data in your organization. How do staff or clients use your information: in what context and in what environment?
    2. Consider potential partnerswho can help your organization increase its data visualization skills.
    3. Identify the visualization opportunitiesthat your team can offer. Can you add technology to your services? What innovation is possible? How can the team be more effective?
    4. Develop a strategic programfor your data visualization needs. What is your organization up against? How can you overcome technical challenges? What are the risks of investment?

    ACA can help you develop a strategic program. We are accomplished analysts, providing IT solutions by surveying the information needs of healthcare organizations, the IT/DAM landscape, and the information needs of teaching hospitals and healthcare organizations.  Contact usto find out more.

     

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    Improve the Library, Improve the Community

    Libraries have long been the heart of the communities they serve.  Eric Klinenberg is a pioneer promoting such social infrastructure as a way to improve lives. As author of Palaces for the People, he has come to the same conclusion that we have in our 47-year history planning libraries: if you build new libraries, communities grow and thrive.

    Sometimes it seems impossible to get support for the local library; funds are often tight, and people have a negative view of the space, creating a vicious cycle. Restricted library funding can have real consequences, including underdeveloped children’s and teen services. This in turn affects the youths’ ability to network, thrive in their community and grow into well-rounded individuals. Kids may just “hang out” in the street or get chased away from public areas like stores or parks. Eric Klinenberg analyzes this problem and offers examples of the public library as a solution. The library offers kids a “third place” and a shared home away from home. This reduces their isolation and improves the community.

    Part of providing this social infrastructure is designing spaces that allow for various activities: quiet work, social interaction and so on. Aaron Cohen Associates’ Five Modes of Learning Workshops provide a platform to analyze how people use library spaces and how they may be improved to support more activities. It offers guidance on how to distribute the library functions in a manageable pattern, using behavior as an underlying guide for the design.

    To determine where the behavioral modes fit into the library, we use a hands-on method called the Visual Scan. Together the five modes of learning and Visual Scan enables our team to create innovations including more group study spaces and flexible, collaborative areas.

    Tomorrow, November 30th, we will host a workshop in NYC at Steelcase. We will examine how we can redefine the library experience. Join us! – CLICK HERE –

  • Library Planning Research

    Improve the Perception of Your Library “Brand”

    Today, a library “brand” is often supported by a website and an app, in addition to the space. When a library user fails to use the library’s website, the library brand takes a hit. When the library’s design does not provide its intended use, the library decreases in perceived value. Every library is thus invested in the performance of their brand.

    According to our research,  a library is only as effective as its design. For instance, a beautiful library with an atrium has an advantage over a small branch library with no room. On the other hand, if a beautiful library does not provide the right spaces and services, the perceived value declines. To develop an effective design, we study user needs and group interactions. Such behavior translates into what we call the five modes of learning: reflective, social, collaborative, flexible and touch point. For example, users may read quietly or work collaboratively; they need space for both.

    Our library programming work breaks down the library collections, seating and staff requirements. Our methods are built on Schein’s cultural model. Interactions are broken into three cultural modes:

    1. Artifacts and Creations
    2. Espoused Values
    3. Basic Assumptions

    Learn More about Schein’s methods for knowledge management

    To obtain the greatest value, create spaces that relate to user needs. For example, if there is an underused space on campus that is old and out of date it may be time to do a library planning study. When we undertake such a study, visit the campus, facilitate exchanges, and develop a master library plan that is based on interactions between users and their environment.

    Once you complete this type of study, you will be able to categorize user needs, and make your library accessible. This improves the perception of your library “brand.”


    Join us November 30, 2018 at Steelcase NYC for an exciting program to learn about library design, programming and planning.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Space Planning

    Planning a Redesign? Let Human Behavior be Your Guide

    For an effective library redesign, let human behavior be your guide. In our work, we have found that people engage in five types of behavior: reflective, social, presentation, collaboration and touchpoint (contact with staff). This concept relates to furniture as well: Steelcase’s  Library Transforms to Learning Commons defined private/alone, private/together, and public/together spaces as part of their strategies to integrate new contemporary furniture into the learning environment.

    Want to learn more about how human behavior can guide design? Join us on November 30, 2018 at Steelcase Worklife in New York. During this one-day workshop, we will share the Five Modes of Learning model and how it can inform your design choices. Aaron Cohen, AIA, will review the ways people use the library and share examples of successful design. Through group discussions and tours of the Steelcase showroom, we will help you determine the goals and objectives of your next library improvement project.

    During this workshop, we will share our programming methods. Creating a library program is a way to outline your space planning requirements. The program is simply a spreadsheet with each space and the square footage required. The list is used to develop an architectural plan that can be used to fund a building project or start an improvement project. Model programs also allow your community members, students and faculty to give early feedback on their potential needs in the new environment.

    Ultimately, this workshop will help you modify design concepts and make the best architecture and interior design choices. When users see their needs met in the new building, they will embrace the library as a community center and a space for innovation.


    JOIN US – NOVEMBER 3, 2018 AT STEELCASE NYC ONE DAY WORKSHOP


    JOIN US – NOVEMBER 3, 2018 AT STEELCASE NYC ONE DAY WORKSHOP