Archive for category Space Planning

The Plausibility of a Virtual Library Concept

Mobile devices once represented a “new frontier” in library service, offering more access and connectivity than ever before. Today, Virtual Reality (VR) applications represent the next wave in libraries. Motion-controlled technology will enable us to step into another world, no longer tethered only to the physical library space. Users will no longer be spectators but participants in the virtual library.

This new technology offers exciting opportunities for knowledge management applications. For example, Kevin He, founder of Midas Touch, is developing physics-based animation games that incorporate real-world movements with the screen view. In the future, the availability of headsets will make it possible for library users to experience different worlds.

VR technology growth is an indicator that things are changing in the research landscape: academic librarians and/or provosts looking to enhance research experiences need to pay attention this topic. Investment in a VR space will enable institutions to offer more value to students; these spaces and technology programs can further enhance student success. For example, a VR program might provide an enhanced experience such as being at the Grand Canyon, adding a new way for students to use information.
Library planning for VR

Planning these spaces will require new program ideas with a flexible library design. This isn’t about individual learning; virtual reality library will be a group space. Additionally, we will need programs and designs that offer safeguards for the distracted. Incorporating this new technology will require a library program that will help drive collaboration, knowledge and innovation in order to meet the needs of tomorrow.

The five P’s–purpose, place, people, programs, and partnership–are a starting point for the library staff and knowledge management business teams. They will need to research how to blend library services in both physical and virtual worlds. They will need to offer cultural and educational experiences in both physical and virtual learning environments. VR technology has the potential to drive innovation, enabling research to happen all in one room or space. ACA can help libraries determine the hardware, software and spatial requirements for the virtual reality library.

Below is a picture of Project Morpheus for PS4

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Libraries – Measuring the Future

At a functional level, the basic concept of library is not antiquated. The library space remains vital and important in the context of a learning model. We have a lot to learn about the use of the library and the behavior of the patrons. It is time to use simple technology to measure the library building; use this information to improve services.

The language of library spaces and collections is traditionally tied to a paper, emphasizing physical qualities over functional characteristics. The challenge is to articulate the essential characteristics of the library space in terms that make sense for today’s user. We are developing library programs based on new data, measuring the learning environment in innovative ways.

ACA has the capabilities to provide Google-Analytics-style dashboards for our library projects. We can help you analyze library building: movement of patons, number of visits, what patrons browsed, what parts of the library were busy during which parts of the day, and more.

If you are a librarian that is on a limited budget, check out “Measure the Future” – they are developing crowd sourcing bots to support libraries that want to asses their space. They are creating simple and inexpensive sensors that can collect data about building usage that is now invisible. The pilot programs can be replicated at your library with students from the local scout club.

Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD is striving to provide strategic design solutions. We help libraries and librarians make strategic decisions that create more efficient and effective experiences for their patrons. Contact ACA if you have a library service planning or space assessment project

5 Modes of Learning

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Library Space Planning: The Third Place

What is the third place? It is a library or community center, learning commons or co-working space. In a community or campus building, the third place is the library. It provides social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). In the library planning world, the third place concept helps the project team search of answers. It helps us develop the library space plan with spaces for students and co-workers – young and old.

According to Nancy Murrey-Settle (YALSA) “When 3rd Place is Good. Empowering Students in the Library” the high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power. ‘ Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts. ‘ When they walk through that library door, decisions await. ‘ Where to sit, computer or table? ‘ Do they need to work, or socialize a bit?

We remember Boarders Books and its periodical / coffee bar / newspaper reading areas, than Starbucks with convenient Wi-Fi locations to support mobile work. Now, Staples and Workbar are developing their own ‘third place’, offing co-working membership areas and prescheduled meeting spaces.

The environment for work in the 21st century is changing, requiring academic and public libraries to think about their space differently. The Staples and Workbar project is an example of a high-end workspaces, conference rooms and private phones rooms that is part of the ‘third place’ transformation of work. The retail spaces are programmed to be between 2,500 o 3,500 sq. ft. and offer collaboration spaces as well as wi-fi, printers and ‘bottomless’ coffee and tea to keep the connectivity and productivity flowing.

We think of the library as part of a hub and spoke network of learning spaces on campuses or in a community. Co-working spaces link students to project-based learning activities; they are often convenient locations with extended hours to support study activities on campus. The Pubic Library’s efforts to be a ‘third place’ provides co-working space for small business customers, independent professionals, startups and the mobile workforce. Below is an example of an adaptable Library…

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Learning Commons – Collection Development

There has been a noticeable shift in the education environment, creating new challenges for anyone managing a campus, school or research institution. The buildings on campus are becoming more collaborative and student success oriented. The classrooms, hallways and dorms are morphing into a creative biosphere with areas for students to study in a variety of library-like environments. These are environments that allow for mobility in what we call a Learning Commons.

The development of the Learning Commons requires a sustainable plan for development. The digital library has become a catalyst for interdisciplinary collaborations; spaces to work that is not isolated. It is a time when the library, schools and campuses need to evolve and transform into a more effective environment.

Closely aligned with the development of the learning commons is the use of library collections in a sustainable manner. In the “The Art of Weeding | Collection Management by Ian Chant,”Circulation frequently rises after a weeding project, however counter-intuitive that may seem.” Most importantly, managing the collection helps the library manage its space and services. It means that the library can provide a variety of spaces for different types of activities, including collaboration, group meetings and quiet study.

Sustainable collection development means more than weeding the library collection. It includes aging materials out and developing policies that help make sound decisions. Collection Development can be a self study or part of a library services and operations study. According to entrepreneur what Tony Hsieh, “you fail at something, you wonder how all these other people are doing it so effortlessly, but those ups and downs are part of every eventual success story.”

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Library / Project Based Learning Environments

Which vision of the future best describes research libraries in the 21st century? Access or Conservation? Some futurists envision the research library to be a truly digital environment. However, technology has a way of isolating us; the library is also a place for communities of practice. At the core, we know that books and journals print or digital are part of the learning environment. They create opportunities for the library building to be permanent and sustainable.

The research library continues to be a blended environment that includes printed materials. In most cases, a place for learning and a repository of books and journals which support academic discourse and preservation/conservation activities. However, embracing digital humanities is a growing trend – / digital humanities blogs to watch. The long tail, as first described by Chris Anderson at Wired Magazine, is becoming more and more find-able in the digital world. It is now possible for research libraries to be teaching centers to help navigate scholarly information published all over the world.

By gaining a thorough understanding of what it takes to be dynamic learning environment, the library must be configured for project based learning activities. The library can show a better return on investment for digital knowledge resources by offering different types of learning spaces.

According to Michael Stevens / tame the web – “The way that many young people are using information technologies is changing the way the world works….” To respond to changing student use of technology we are programming media walls and/or large plasma/LED installations into libraries. Our programming methods incorporate new types of interactive media that responds to how student use technology. The set ups help the student navigate information technology in the physical library.

The culture we’ve tried to build at Aaron Cohen Associates emphasizes being strategic and respectful. If we want our libraries to emphasize project based learning, than we have to respect new ways of working in the library environment.
Library Space Planning Diagram

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Innovation at the Library 2016

ACA Purpose DiagramForeseeing trends in the future for the next ten to twenty years in library services is hard to do. The fact that, by some accident, some of us happen to work in library assessment does not mean we have a better crystal ball than anybody else. Your best guess about what might happen at a local library or an academic research center in the future is as good as anybody else’s.

According to “Rebirth Of The Library” libraries are evolving to support civic engagement. For example, Brett Bonfield, Director of the Collingswood Public Library stated that free wi-fi and a high top table is great to connect to the internet. The library is a place that creates an active community and helps people do their work. The podcast suggests that we need to improve well-being for Americans; provide places for people learn – by conversation or by practicing and by participating and doing. Indeed the library is a place for civic engagement.

If you are planning a library or improving the one you have, its important to recognize changes in our society, technology, building and services. For example, back in the 2000’s we witnessed the growing use of smart phones in libraries and the use of computers in the library. In fact, 99% of libraries now have some type internet access.

We continue to develop new types of library services to enable project based learning and collaboration as well as individual / reflective activities. We believe the library is an enabling instrument for the community or campus. It is an instrument that makes it possible for people to do what is so basic to our culture to share resources and learn from them.

At the Sacramento Public Library they are focusing on the library of things. This idea goes back as far as the very beginning of recorded history on our planet. We might think that the phenomenon of information sharing and collaboration as new. Some of our libraries contain the ancient notched sticks used to record information. They have special items that can be used for research and exploration. According to Library of Things: Bringing borrowing shops to the UK | #LoT – The library of things is a trend to watch in 2016 – people dedicated to a shared world. So, are libraries about the future? You bet, the French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery once observed: “As for the future, your task is not to foresee but to enable.”

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Labyrinth in the Library

According to the Orchestrator Model, the library’s service plan can be orchestrated with “think”, “feel” and “do” strategies. The development of a building program helps the library staff “think” about the architecture and service model. The strategic plan helps the library’s leadership “feel” or define the types of interactions needed in a 21st century learning environment.

In Matt Cook and Janet Brennan Croft’s “Interactive Mindfulness Technology,” we learn that 40% to 80% of the students researched bring their own devises to the academic library. Students are using the library on their own terms; they find the space that best matches their needs. Usually, they sit close to power. It is obvious we need strategies to orchestrate the library’s services and operations better.

Many older libraries are built like a labyrinth. They are confusing buildings with corridors that lead to dead-ends. This puts further strain on the library’s finances, because an old and out dated building doesn’t attract investment.

Our interpretation of the Orchestrator model is that the building program or library space plan should be part of the library’s “do” strategy. Start by analyzing the labyrinth of pathways through the library. Try to use evidence based planning or leadership techniques that can be used with the Visual Scan. This is a facilitated tour of the library space with focus groups, asking them how to improve the library.

Other “do” strategies include a services and operations analysis; a study that defines the library’s service priorities. This could include service strategies such as program/event development, volunteer efforts, improving the usability of circulation services, web and social media projects.

We have been looking at the proportionality of spaces. For example, the golden ratio to help us understand how to open up libraries and remove the Maze-like affects. We believe the gold ratio provides some clues on how to provide the correct proportion for the service desk, collection areas, seating and staff / processing functions.

Take a look at the model below and start to think about the new types of interactions possible. Do you have a plan to get the proportions of your library right? Get your staff together to “think” about the potential outcomes of programming the library of the future.

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Look to “Learning Modes” to Guide Library Design

Over the last 25 years, research has shown that the right environment can transform the way a student learns and retains information. According to Rob Abel, Malcolm Brown, Jack Suess – “In higher education, we are entering a period in which it is the connections between everything and everyone that are of importance…A connected learning environment offers new ways to connect things that were previously considered disparate and “un-connectable”: people, resources, experiences, diverse content, and communities, as well as experts and novices, formal and informal modes, mentors and advisors.”

ACA developed the Five Modes of Learning to help create these connected learning environments. We approach a project by recognizing the diverse ways that students learn; our studio strives to create library environments that will enhance their experience.

Aaron Cohen Associates’ Five Modes of Learning are:

• Touchpoint
• Collaboration
• Reflective
• Social
• Presentation

A SPACE FOR EVERY MODE OF LEARNING

Touch point
The touchpoint should be the first point of contact in the library. It is a place for casual contact and interactions; it is also a place where a student can interact with the collection. A touchpoint is located in an open environment, with students able to use it independently or ask a librarian.

A typical touchpoint could be the circulation desk or help desk—but these spaces can become much more than a place to check out materials. There has been a shift in Library services from a fixed stationary point to a mobile series of help hotspots. Or, a touchscreen can be a self-directed, informal learning portal.

Collaboration
The collaborative learning mode enables dialogue between people who come together to explore new possibilities and challenging problems. It becomes a place for students to share ideas and information as they work together, or spontaneously with others nearby. It offers a way to connect people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to interact. Collaborative areas must offer flexible seating arrangements and access to power.

Reflective
Even as technology changes and data-access increases, students still need a quiet space to work. The reflective learning mode refers to a typical “study” environment: it is a personal space that is conducive to quiet study and reflection. Understanding human behavior is an important aspect of reflective learning environments. Many students will look for a place to concentrate and focus intently on their work.

Social
A social space is somewhat self-explanatory, but essential to a successful library design. It is a conversation area where it is acceptable—even expected—to have more noise, possibly food, and a place where students can unwind or even work in an informal environment. A library café is a good example of a social learning space.

Presentation/Training
University students often need a space to do practice presentations or be part of a group in which one person is speaking to all. Semi-enclosed or enclosed areas provide a good environment for the presentation learning mode.

Covering all the “Five Modes of Learning” enables a library or learning center to offer the perfect mix of design and functionality. By keeping learning modes in mind during the planning process, a library truly can serve every student’s needs.

5MODESOFLEARNING

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The Impact Assessment: A Powerful Tool

Library impact assessments can be self-studies. They can come in one, two or 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. This holistic approach can detect 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 by creating 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. In other words, they need to strive for a sustainable and functional competitive advantage.

Today, the staffs of successful academic libraries, and the educational organizations to which they report, must identify and quickly respond to transitory competitive advantages. They must then move on to the next short-lived technological and market upgrades. The library staff must be open to constantly learning and adopting new services—because environments are in persistent states of flux.

Elaine Cohen suggests, “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. This means that a good predictive model needs to produce a deep and durable impact assessment that both guides and accelerates an holistic approach to overseeing library services and spaces.”

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A Beautiful Space, a Usable Space: The Balance of Library Design

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

CHRON – Most beautiful libraries in Texas… and beyond

Article – 62 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

STANFORD UNIVERSITY – GREEN LIBRARY

Stanford University Green Library

OLD TOWN LIBRARY – FORT COLLINS CO

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