• 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?

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    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.

    CONTACT LIBRARY CONSULTANT TEAM


     

  • 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.

    FOR MORE INFO ABOUT OUR SERVICES – Contact Us

     

  • 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.

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