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At colleges across the county, there are many students and teachers who feel as if they are part of a nomadic tribe rather than being an integrated part of the academic community. Reflecting on the current state of higher education, this is especially true for non-traditional students and adjunct faculty members. Like many other nomadic people, non-traditional students and adjuncts do not have a continual space to call their own and, more often than not, they have to adapt to infertile climates and move on in order to subsist.
We believe it is time for the academic library to embrace non-traditional students and adjunct faculty to support collaborative work. For example, adjunct faculty are increasingly responsible for a majority of courses taught at community colleges in the United States. They teach non-traditional students who also need space to build skills for new jobs and careers. Together these groups represent a growing need for higher learning space.
According to a recent report created by the Center for Community College Student Engagement: “Colleges depend on part-time faculty to educate more than half of their students, yet they do not fully embrace these faculty members. Because of this disconnect, contingency can have consequences that negatively affect student engagement and learning.” Indeed, the academic library provides a space for non-traditional learners, as well as adjunct faculty and researchers who can use these new types of makerspaces for specialty knowledge building.
As a crucial part of sustaining the economic stability of universities across the county, and community college libraries in particular, the nomadic existence that non-traditional students. adjuncts, and many other types of researchers, experience is problematic. We see the big issues with this current system as being primarily two-fold:
- How is this system affecting student learning and retention?
- How is this system affecting expectations and best practice for higher education?
Without space, time and incentive, oftentimes the relationship between non-traditional students and adjunct faculty is highly transactional. One has to ask: Can libraries offer a solution?
- The academic library provides space for knowledge building activities.
- The academic library provides digital access to electronic resources.
- The academic library provides specialist librarians who offer research assistance.
The library can alleviate some of the strain that affects both adjunct faculty and the students that they teach. Whether it is embedded librarianship, research tutorials, directed learning activities or just being a space where students and faculty can meet face-to-face, the library and librarians are helping to shape the relationship between adjunct faculty and the traditional and non-traditional student population for the better.
The idea that a library can be an incubator space and a place for innovation is something many librarians and educators share. We believe libraries can be learning hubs. They can be developed with a solid understanding of learning space design and library planning measurements. For example, “U.S. Plans Global Network of Free Online Courses,” the US government is going to develop “learning hubs” or incubator libraries.
For Lila Ibrahim, the president of Coursera, “The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.”
Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD developed five different learning modes that will support the development of the Library as an Incubator or Learning Hubs
1. Develop reflective spaces for focused work
2. Create collaborative spaces that can be facilitated – teacher/tutor/mentor/geek squad/librarian
3. Design social interactions with touch-points
4. Develop program, classroom and presentation spaces to run programs.
In collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology, we held a workshop on the Library as an Incubator on Oct. 26, 2013. The program explored our unique planning methodology. Our host Charlie Bennett provided examples of how to develop innovation spaces and maker spaces. He will be speaking for the TEDX Telfairstreet and Tinker, Teacher, Maker, Space: Two Co-working Experiments in the Academic Library @ LITA 2013.
Our workshop took us on a Visual Scan tour of the library’s collaboration spaces.
Are there better places to learn on campus or in a community? The library can better serve their community by providing new services and re-vamping existing delivery strategies. According to “where do we go from here? Informing Academic Library Staffing through Reference Transaction Analysis,” mobility, power and technology are changing the way students use the reference desk. In 2010, over 62% percent of undergraduate students owned Internet capable handheld devices.
According to PewInternet, 91% of American adults own a cell phone and many use the devices for much more than phone calls. With the rapid adoption of mobile technologies and advances in all digital resources, libraries need to provide answers to questions wherever we are.
Resource rich environments can be enhanced with touch points that help you navigate to what you need. The library can offer tools that enhances the users ability to operate in the digital cloud. For example, a plan to define the path of travel through the library can be both physical and virtual. There is technology that can react to our needs wherever we are.
Academic libraries are starting to use location based QR codes to support real-time learning activities. Plans that allow users to walk into an area with books or periodicals and connect to the libraries e-resources are being considered. Librarians are developing real-time opportunities for physical and virtual collaboration, providing a platform to support Laphams Quarterly’s art of learning.
Laroi Lawton at Cuny Bronx Community College developed a good starting point for reasons why libraries are important. The list provides some of the reasons that students know and indicate that their library is still relevant, in order of importance:
1. convenient hub
5. resource rich
7. relevant collections
8. distraction free
We see the need for libraries continuing into the future. They provide a unique medium based on a long history of programmable space that encourages individuals to succeed. Libraries are places to learn and promote civilized activities. This personal approach towards helping the library user along with their research is the basis of our culture.
There are a wide variety of new mobile technologies and apps that are changing the way people use information. It is time to accept the handheld librarian as the norm and add them to the art of knowing….Join Us at our workshop on Oct 26th at the Georgia Institute of Technology
It turns out that the noise level in the social “library as place” can be a positive factor in the learning environment. The library can be a social and active place to generate creative ideas as long as the sound level is just right. According to a study, “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition” by the University of British Columbia and the University of Virginia ambient background noise turns out to be an important factor affecting creative cognition among learners. Noise levels at around 70 decibels, equivalent to a passenger car traveling on a highway, enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the likelihood of creative innovation.
Ravi Mehta, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, stated in “Too much, too little noise turns off consumers, creativity” that “a moderate level of noise not only enhances creative problem-solving but also leads to a greater adoption of innovative products in certain settings.” Mehta and co-authors Rui (Juliet) Zhu, of the University of British Columbia, and Amar Cheema, of the University of Virginia, explored how a moderate-level of ambient noise helps create a positive pattern of behavior.
The noise study found that there’s an inverted-U relationship between noise level and creativity. It turns out that around 70 decibels is the sweet spot. If you go beyond that, it’s too loud, and the noise starts to negatively affect creativity. It’s the Goldilocks principle – the middle is just right.
Our planning team works with sound experts to enhance the library / learning commons. We analyze how noise can create positive learning environments. We analyze the impact of sound on the learning environment. For example, our partner Charlie Morrow from Morrow3D sound studies how to integrate noise into international museum exhibitions.
We know that our clients need sound expertise and knowledge during library planning. This expertise in library, learning commons and museum environments is very important when there is not enough square footage for the community. The noise creates a negative friction that hurts the overall life the library and/or learning space, requiring a knowledgeable team to support planning efforts. Spaces that are planned with the high levels of noise (85 decibels), require a solid program and sound management plan.
The Bexar County library will open a prototype digital public library. According to “Paperless Libraries Switch to Digital” – It will have 100 e-readers on loan, and dozens of screens where the public will be able to browse, study, and learn digital skills. However, it’s likely most users will access BiblioTech’s initial holding of 10,000 digital titles anywhere.
The Learning Commons is a library space that the community can use for multipurpose / multi-functional activities. Conceptually, it is a public space that functions as a modern learning environment. A bookless library that offers just e-readers and desktop computers will find out that the “library as place” is the key their success; a motivating seating space that allows people to work collaboratively or individually.
According to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolf in NPR’s “A New Chapter? A Launch Of The Bookless Library – The library is a chance to expand the scope of opportunities for people to learn technology. The world is changing.”
According to an NPR comment by Michael Hale – “For the past 15 years or so, the public library has become as much of a community center as a place to house a collection. It provides computers for those who cannot afford them, which allows them to construct resumes and do daily activities such as banking or renewing their driver’s license.”
Below is a picture from our studio. We are working on understanding how spaces relate to each other in the new learning commons. It is a good example of our visualization process and something that is critical to the development of new types of learning spaces.
Library buildings can be designed to enhance learning support and research. Librarians can support the workflow of their researchers by directly supporting, managing and aggregating the content. These days there are plenty of librarians preaching community, but what about how we can design libraries to enhance the digital world?
Libraries are places where solutions are possible through access to knowledge and higher education. Planning learning environments requires us to be aware of new opportunities in education technology, open-source software or open-access publishing.
According to “Open Online Courses – an avalanche that might just get stopped“- In the US, the growing chorus for online education through massive open online courses, or moocs, has been deafening.” For example, the California legislature created a bill for the “New University of California” – one that offered no instruction but would issue credentials to people merely for passing exams. Does this model assure that our students are learning in the online world?
The New University of California bill did not pass, but California lawmakers detailed a plan on May 8, 2013 to require the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies.
The bottom line is that there really is no replacement for face-to-face interaction between teachers, professors, librarians and students. Digital and online methods can enrich those interactions, but it is no match for the community of services at our Universities and Colleges provide; the community of professors, tutors, peer mentors, librarians, IT help, libraries, computers labs, disability services and academic support.
It seems unlikely that libraries and learning spaces can be replaced by online learning without considerable investment in electronic resources. No wonder 72% of those who have taught moocs over the past three years believe students who took their classes had not done sufficient work to deserve credit from their institution.
Libraries and Learning Commons can be created with clusters of valuable and distinctive services. Librarians can ensure that the learning environment, enhances the reputation of the community, faculty and the institution. Librarians will continue to ask – What services does the community need? How can their output be preserved, discovered and re-used?
You can think of the Learning Commons as an incubator. It is an “I-Lab” – a multifunctional and fluid space for learning. The photo below is a visualization board that is at the Mathematics Museum in New York. It is an example of a physical environment that will support online learning technologies.
NC State developed a wonderful video for their new library project. The video shows all of the different programmatic components required for a modern academic library including socializing, preservation and late night study.
Librarians can develop a proactive position when facing the future. Review this video to reflect and visualize the types of interactions and technology that can be in a library.
In a world of homogenized choices, the library can be the space where your community can feel truly fulfilled in their quest for knowledge, enlightenment, entertainment and connection to others.
A couple of months ago, it seamed like all of the library information systems – ILS vendors were developing apps. The business of finding information had gone mobile; everyone was trying to develop a way to reach their customer more effectively. The New York Times article “As Search Goes Mobile, Apps Chip at Google’s Lead” discussed how searching for information is mobile. It states that Google is under pressure to change, because the behavior of searching for information is changing.
Entering the library to find answers is going to be a lot more mobile for users. The mobile user will search for information in different types of environments. Shar VanBoskirk stated “there is a lot of pressure on search engines to delivery more customize, more relevant results. Users don’t need links to web pages. We need answers, solutions, whatever intel we were searching for.”
We like to visualize and think about Apps as virtual “touch points” for content; providing new opportunities to find information. The mobile App can be combined with a physical “touch point” in and around a campus or in a community library.
A synergy of positive feedback can be created in the library to enhance learning activities. Libraries act as connectors for social and public spaces. They can be flexible “research commons” – places with an enhanced wireless network, lighting controls, heating and cooling and flexible furniture.
Baghdad Library, Youth City, Baghdad Iraq
Dates: Awarded November 2011, scheduled to tender late 2013
Project size: 45,000 sqm
Client: Ministry of Sports and Youth
Services Provided: Library Planning / Architecture Support
The new Library takes the shape of a drop-like peninsula, which projects out onto a lake. The 45,000 sqm structure will be the cultural center of Baghdad’s Youth and Sport City development.
AMBS Architects and ACA have revealed their ambitious design for the new Baghdad Library. The building brings together form, function, and cultural significance. The 45,000 sqm structure will be the central focus of a planned Youth City that has been designed to inspire Iraq’s younger generations.
The new Baghdad library scheduled to tender this year, will be a public space and cultural center designed to encourage intellectual, creative and social exchange. With this elegant, multipurpose building, AMBS Architects, who were commissioned by the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Iraq last year, hope to inspire a new model for libraries in Iraq and internationally.
Saad Eskander, Director of the National Library of Iraq said: “It is imperative for the new Iraq to consolidate its young democracy and good governance through knowledge. New libraries have a notable role to play by promoting unconditional access to information, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, and transparency. By responding to the needs of Iraq’s next generations, the new library, we hope, will play an important role in the future of our country.”
The project represents a crucial step in the rebuilding of Iraq, which has been underway since 2003. Over the past nine years AMBS founder Ali Mousawi has played a significant role in the country’s redevelopment. He said: “Before 2003 Iraq had almost collapsed after a thirteen year embargo and eight years of war. This kept the country isolated from the world and from modern technology. I had to leave Iraq myself in 1982 and returned in 2003 to assist with the rebuilding of the country, with the aim of revitalising Iraq and establishing a new vision for the future.
“What I saw when I returned and still see today is that the Iraqi youth are in many ways lost. They have been surrounded by violence, and for years there has been a lack of services and few opportunities for work or personal development. We hope that the library will help shape Iraq’s next generation of intellects and politicians, artists and writers, poets and musicians, doctors and lawyers, and change makers.”
AMBS Architects are partnering with New York based firm ACA Consultants, one of the world’s leading library consultants and planners, with the aim to build a collection of over three million books, including rare manuscripts and periodicals. The library will also house cutting edge technology, performance and event spaces. AMBS Director Amir Mousawi said: “This will be an accessible library for all ages. Our ambition is to create a space where people can run a serious and consolidated programme of public events; art exhibitions, book clubs, theatre events, educational conferences, film screenings and workshops.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Sport and Youth said: “Our vision is to bring hope back to the young people, to build them a new cultural centre where they can express their talent and ideas. The whole library will be modern; it won’t simply be a place to find books, but a freely accessible place of knowledge.”
The library is designed to engage and empower visitors, and to encourage open exchange. The building’s lightweight, single-span roof, creates a vast open plan space, allowing people to read and navigate the building logically. The practical and cultural importance of light is demonstrated through an encrypted message in the the design of the roof, which forms the word ‘read’ written in Arabic Kufic script. This is documented as the first word spoken by God to the Prophet (PBUH).
Functionality, intuitive organisation, and rational user-friendly design were all key concepts which shaped the building from the inside out. AMBS Co-Director Marcos De Andres said: “The Baghdad Library is more than simply a sleek and strikingly beautiful structure – what makes this building truly remarkable is the user interface. Our focus was the building’s behaviour, and our systematic approach started with a creative dialogue; thinking rationally, reasoning and discussing how the building should work. We have challenged the conventional library model, conceiving it as a modern, multi-functional public space. We identified core activities and paid special attention to the exchanges we wanted to engender through use. Thoughts and ideas gave shape to a set of unique spaces, and little by little an ideal model was formed.”
In the Art of Browsing by Claire Barliant we started to reflect about the book as a trend in our quest for knowledge. We learned about the “Library of Unborrowed Books” – an art installation developed by Meriç Algün Ringborg that manifests itself in the languages and titles of each book in the collection.
Meriç Algün Ringborg’s art installation looks at the library as a contemporary moment. The project presents hundreds of books that have never been borrowed from the Center for Fiction’s library. The framework hints at what has been disregarded, knowledge essentially unconsumed. It puts on display what eludes us.
Librarians know that the act of browsing for a book in a large collection is an idea generator. It provides the patron that is walking in the library with an awareness and openness to new ideas, stories, history and science. Claire Barliant reflects on the real changes occuring in our world. She stated, “But with every trend, however modest, you have to wonder, why now? Is it possible that book browsing is already strange and unusual enough to be considered material for art?”
“Everyone agrees that the future of publishing is electronic, with words beamed to us instantaneously. But in that case, what will happen to all of the books and the places that store them? When they’re gone, where will we randomly stumble on the knowledge we didn’t even know we wanted to know?”
We believe the library will continue to represent the gaps and cracks of history through book and media circulation. We believe in the digital catalog, providing a collection where access and ownership and subscription licenses are intermixed. Most importantly, the library will provide professional support through readers advisory and information literacy.
The library of the future will be where primary materials and extended access co-exist to create an experience that enhances our learning process and research outcomes.