• 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

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    Navigate the Master Planning Landscape with an Experienced Guide

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD can help you create a master plan so compelling that it will persuade the public to support it. When you consider library improvements through a collaborative program exercise, then you begin to see how the future can be shaped. Unfortunately, collaboration can be complex, and hiring an inexperienced team can have unfortunate consequences.

    According to Harvard Business Review’s “The Collaboration Blind Spot,”cross-group/cross-organization user analysis can go very wrong. There can be politics at play, and territorial behavior. During master planning work, there can be power plays as well as blocking behavior from all staff, including IT and facilities. Sometimes, longtime librarians find that leadership has covert plans to manipulate space boundaries. We understand there are all types of motivations, which is why our methodology of appreciative inquiry helps us create a balanced playing field.

    LIBRARY MASTER PLAN

    We know that library master planning has simple steps that will help you take control of your future. We follow a simple plan:

    1. Data gathering
    2. Testing a Vision
    3. Library Service Planning and Programming
    4. Scenario Planning and Phasing
    5. 10-year Plan/Presentation/Feedback/Update

    Before we start data gathering, we assemble a team and develop a communication plan. First, we cover the big picture issues, communicate the opportunities and need for more information. With answers to the big questions out of the way, we break down the issues to develop a program. This program is used in a variety of ways: space analysis, user behavior, budget planning, digital assets, marketing SEO, staff and operations requirements and collection storage. Following a methodology with an experienced library consultant will help your community gain user input and analyze user behavior.

    GET STARTED ON YOUR LIBRARY MASTER PLAN

    Before you start your next library master plan, review your strategic plan and ask members of your team to join a library planning committee. This committee will tour other institutions and ask lots of questions. They will visit furniture showrooms and demo digital asset management software. The team will learn:

    • Where your library user is today and where they want to go tomorrow
    • That a library is both a physical service and a digital place
    • Best practices and trends, proven space planning options and experience in planning.

    We will create a plan, budget and schedule that helps take the guesswork out of creating a library master plan. Contact Us: we can help you successfully navigate a library master plan.

    BELOW ARE AREAS THAT CAN BE PART OF A MASTER PLAN SYSTEM STUDY OR SINGLE LIBRARY PLAN

     

    Contact Us: we can help you successfully navigate a library master plan.

  • 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 –