Archive for category Library Planning Research
We are often asked “what are the best libraries in the world?” This is a difficult question to answer, because libraries must be both beautiful and functional. An attractive space is only part of the equation; a library must also offer essential services. Conversely, a library may have great services and still need to improve their physical environment. This is why library design is a challenge for any architectural team.
We have been studying the dynamics of beautiful libraries for many years, with input from librarians and architects. For example, the library building awards by LLAMA is a good place to familiarize yourself with libraries that stand out. You may also inform LLAMA of projects that you think are worthwhile.
There are many elements that need to be defined in order to develop a balanced and beautiful library environment. Below are links to some examples of library design; they are a source of inspiration for us, aiding the design process for our clients.
LINKS TO BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIES
Architectural Digest – The most spectacular libraries around the world
Business Insider – The most beautiful new library buildings in America
Transformative learning environments can make a big impact on struggling youth. As technology continues to advance, libraries are now offering coding classes to support the next generation of education. They are creating their own well of knowledge by training the community in new skills. For example, the Hive at Hillsborough Public Libraries provides all the tools to develop new ideas. Louisville’s library system (LFPL) offers coding courses to community members, supporting the next wave of knowledge workers. The HPLC and LFPL are both examples of libraries that are responding to an industry that is chronically in need of young and energetic workers, i.e. software and hardware developers. The libraries are making a difference with both space, services and collections; something that is unique to all libraries.
According to Coding ‘Boot Camp’ Opens High-Tech Doors, free software-building classes can put poor youth on a potentially lucrative career path. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that hiring of software developers will grow at a rate twice as fast as the average for all occupations through 2022. Keeping this in mind, libraries need to be investing in coding classes, staff and hackable spaces. They need to connect with companies like Jeff Macco’s Seedpaths; delivering software development education to entry-level and advanced-level students.
Libraries that support the community with coding/software development and crowd-sourcing skills can make a real difference in the world. What if libraries could train their own software developers to help them build public funding campaigns? As the Guardian reported in”Crowdfunding saved Timbuktu’s manuscripts. What’s next?,” Thomas Gruner and T160K developed a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo called Timbuktu Libraries in Exile. In 2014 it raised $67,000, illustrating that crowdfunding is a viable way to raise money for libraries: ancient and modern, large and small.
Even though Timbuktu’s library had no funding, hackers from around the world rallied to support the wealth of knowledge it holds. This can be the same for any library. It starts by building new spaces that will enhance the technology capabilities in your community and connecting them with the world.
Library impact assessments can be self-studies. They can come in three forms: Lib Quals (created by the Association of Research Libraries), visual scans and/or environmental scans. A visual scan is an observational assessment of the interior of the library facility. An environmental scan observes the internal and external physical and social environments. It is an holistic approach for detecting signs of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). It promises to influence current and future strategic plans.
Our company, Aaron Cohen Associates (ACA), has developed an in-depth predictive model for library services and spaces. As a basic strategy, we have created an impact assessment that combines the best of the visual and environmental scans. We believe this is an important strategy for our academic library clients. They need to extract maximum value from their environment to maintain a competitive advantage.
In today’s technological environment, the staffs of successful academic libraries—and the educational structures to which they report—must identify and quickly respond to transitory competitive advantages, and move on to the next short-lived technological and market upgrades. Their staffs must be open to learning and adopting new behaviors constantly as their information and educational environments are in persistent states of flux.
An organization cannot survive with a minimalist approach to the future. Instead it needs basic strategies that produce sustained changes in behavior and robust improvements in performance. All this means that a good predictive model needs to produce a deep and durable impact assessment that both guides and accelerates a holistic approach to overseeing library services and spaces.
PREDICTIVE MODEL FOR LIBRARY PLANNING
The library is operating in a very different world today. Technology is constantly evolving within an environment that is increasingly smart, flexible and mobile. Though so much is available on the web, a huge amount of historical content remains un-digitized and hidden. The library of tomorrow should be a public campus that will grow the world’s knowledge base while still providing access to non-digital resources. It will be responsive to changing cultural and digital needs, providing opportunities for dynamic collaboration.
According to the Horizon Report 2015, “the Lean Startup movement uses technology as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation in a more widespread, cost-effective manner, and provides compelling models” for library leaders and higher-education planners to consider.” The future library needs to favor experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design upfront” development (see HBR Article by Steve Blank).
Tomorrow’s users will connect to the public campus on the go: For example, pedestrians will receive “pushed” information from Bluetooth i-beacons near the library, and students will be able to access the cloud for school projects.
It is time to start developing the next generation libraries, enabling the community to benefit from a variety of knowledge resources. Through an integrated customer service model and tiered support services, the next generation library can enrich the cultural life of a campus, town, city and a nation.
The newest frontier in library service is the development of a MakerSpace, which can include access to 3D technology. Mick Ebeling at Not Impossible Labs provides an inspiring example of how 3D printers can make a difference in the world.
Why should the Library offer a MakerSpace environment? According to Mick, its time to start planning for the impossible – the future!
The library is an ideal place to introduce people to 3D technology. By providing computers and software to work on 3D projects, as well as a place to print these new creations, the library can help people step into a new world. They can be the “go-to” place for their students and patrons by enabling them to send the file(s) they want printed. The library will provide a time/cost estimate and print the items for pickup. See 3D rose example
As with any transition, libraries and educators need to be prepared before they offer such a service.There are few things more frustrating to patrons than seeing a service offered that then can’t be delivered! To avoid this, look for 3D printers that don’t require a lot of maintenance, and make sure staff have the technical training to manage the equipment, enabling them to share “making” skills with the community. For example, what will you do if you need to “level the build plate” or get help when the machine gets stuck? Investing in the necessary training for staff is essential; in a digital world, the library staff is actually more important than ever.
The Library MakerSpace will take a lot of work from the community to get started. The library staff will need to develop policies and procedures for MakerSpace services and equipment. For example, if you want to allow people use to hands-on tools you will need to provide space to work and a reasonable length of time to do so. This requires user policies, plans for time limits, and more.
How does the 3D printer work?
The 3D printer system works like an automated cake maker; cold plastic is loaded into the machine and fed through a tube that is heated. The liquidized plastic is pushed through a tube like a decorator that writes “happy birthday” on a cake. This is a simplistic description that can be expanded to incorporate metal, wood and biodegradable plastic printing.
The costs for entry into 3D library makerspaces is roughly $1,500 to $2,500 depending on the Makerbot Replicator. It comes with software that makes it possible to develop objects. Other manufacturers are Polyprinter and Lulzbot Mini. In addition, Lulzbot and Cura is a good hardware / software combination. Download Cura – free 3D software.
Software is an important part of the 3D printing experience. AutoCAD works very well with the 3D printer. However, there are other open source options – Meshmixer, Tinkercad, Cura and/or AutoDesk 123D. This software needs to be intuitive and easy to work with and designed specifically to produce 3D-printable model files.
Once your library is also a makerspace, you may be able to connect your library to other MakerSpaces. Go to Skyforge and check out this service; it links all of the 3D printers together.
The term “library collection” is always subject to interpretation; today, it can mean many different things. A library with no books? It’s not impossible anymore. Even within a traditional library, learning spaces and computer labs will emerge, offering new ways to collaborate, learn and use a library’s resources. Are you thinking of designing a space like this, or somehow rethinking your current space? Your fellow librarians, educators and public leaders believe the library can offer more than just books, but it can be hard to know where to begin.
How can you develop your library to better serve today’s students and patrons? An essential first step is to develop a master plan or library building program. This is a document that outlines the goals, objectives and strategies for the future library. It should also outline the service and space needs of the library community. The master plan can be broken into phases, with a schedule that offers milestones for the library to follow.
The easiest way to get your library plan started is to create a planning committee: This is a small group of dedicated people that can focus on defining library services and space needs. It is also a marketing opportunity; you can allow your partners to get involved and hold open meetings to gain some momentum for change. Focusing on collaboration and getting to know the community served will help you reclaim the strategic “high ground,” so you can move forward with an organized approach and make this a successful year for your library.
According to Elaine Cohen, a user touch point affords direct and in-direct contact with library services. It can be a physical or digital connection. Upon entering the library, a touch point should be in full view. It could be a touch screen, a staff service desk or a kiosk at which a customer may gain help.
Academic, government and public libraries may have several touch points, certainly one near the entry, and others scattered within the facility for reference help, etc. Small libraries may have only one, visible from the door. Below is a visualization of a futuristic library circulation / access services touch point.
Display shelving and book-stacks featuring the heavily used aspects of the core collection can be considered touch points.
Although increasing numbers of people prefer to download fiction, non-fiction, class assignments, research materials, business information, etc. onto their mobile devices, some customers still favor print. They like the feel of the newspaper or the book, or the steady image that print affords. Be aware, however, that a growing number of libraries have dispensed with print altogether, and that the trend is accelerating.
Libraries with important deposit collections, rare books, archives, local history memorabilia, etc. will feature display collections of print.
According to the American Library Association, there are 120,096 libraries in the United States. Although the U.S. is a complex and dynamic country, too many libraries are housed in out-dated facilities that, in their rigidity, de-emphasize the potential aspects of their use. It is difficult to represent the rich world of today’s multifaceted experiences in flat-lands that look backward, and, essentially, ignore the on-going information revolution.
Although staffs continue to migrate library services toward e-resources, their work environments in these buildings emphasize traditional, paper-based operations. Too many of them contain imposing desks; reading rooms outfitted with almost indestructible tables and chairs; walls and walls of book stacks; outmoded, low tech program rooms; too large and out-dated technical services/operations areas.
Escaping from these flat-lands means re-envisioning the facilities by emphasizing library performance related to customer needs. Simplicity is the key according to Christine Congdon, Donna Flynn and Melanie Redman Harvard Business Review balancing “We” and “Me”
HRB States – “The best collaborative spaces also support solitude” – From our perspective, the best libraries and learning spaces support 7 different spatial modes of learning. Any up-date or major renovation must take into consideration functional relationships, and be driven by the 7 library interior spatial modes:
Five of these modes directly interface with customers. A sixth mode relates to the deposit print collection, if it still exists. The seventh mode concerns staff services/operations.
As libraries come to understand their need for collections, they must recognize that the book can be in many different formats. In a recent article by the Economist, the transformation of the book is taking off. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers – book and e-book research, consumer book sales was 15.1 billions dollars in 2009.
In the past, the majority of book sales were in print. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predict by 2018; 7.9B will be sold in print and 8.7B will be sold in e-book sales/equivalent. The prediction means that we will be living with books and e-books for a long time.
The book is a really competitive technology – it is portable, hard to break, has high resolution pages and as Russell Grandinetti from Amazon stated; a “long battery life”.
We believe that books are part of an ecosystem of library spaces. They require strategic space planning to determine how to distribute technology, collections, seating and staff.
Our studies show that the most successful library environments provide a range of spaces. Spaces can be planned to manage distraction; take a break, etc. Libraries can be flexible with adaptive interiors that can respond easily to dynamic operational and technological requirements.
What does it take to develop a high quality library that meets or exceeds “best practices” – what are some best practices?
Innovation has long been the backbone of library science practitioners. We are a library planning firm dedicated to organizational development, space planning and technology programs. Our project research results from questions our clients ask about management, collection development and architectural design.
To learn about library planning strategies, join us on September 3rd at 2:30pm (EST) for planning to transform your library.
To pay for the session go to – LIBRARY CONSULTANT WEBINAR – REGISTER