Archive for category Social Library Issues

Vision Lab: Single Purpose Education Buildings are Out

In the education world, libraries are ready to become part of the learning experience. Colleges are trimming the space for open shelving and providing more space for reflective, collaborative and group project-based work. The space and storage requirements are not going away, which requires careful planning and adjustments to the program.

The functions of libraries are clarified at Aaron Cohen Associates, especially at schools where the line of demarcation between social gathering spaces and serious work cause friction. During a recent library planning project, we looked at converting existing book stacks to accommodate interdisciplinary space to enable more scholarly research across all fields. We focused on data visualization and the need to accommodate to different types of learning behaviors.

The Future Library / Vision Lab Concept is visualized in ‘The Contingency of a Pinball Machine‘ – In Tech Trends 21, the pinball is a visual metaphor of the user who is launched through innovation onto the playing board, with the ball representing value for all of scholarly communications, including researchers, libraries, and publishers.

“The flippers that keep the ball in play are Human and AI assisted technologies that support the value chain process. Additional support propelling the ball is provided by institutions, both libraries and other institutional support infrastructures, as well as funding organizations.”

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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 with No Limits: Navigating the Digital Landscape

We see libraries with no limits, based on the expansion of digital content. But the expansion of digital material leads to the need for a guide. According to Eric Maslowski, co-director of the Digital Media Commons at the University of Michigan, “I think of us as Sherpas through the digital landscape.” This “guide” analogy is apt: Libraries offer both access to expensive tools and unique knowledge of the tools offered. Thus, a “digital Sherpa” can lead you to your research article or support you through your learning journey.

Libraries have been evolving for years; the need for space and service planning is ongoing. The academic library has been under pressure to change: from competing academic services that keep University libraries from gaining momentum, to a need for long-term investments in the physical building. We work with academic librarians and academic service specialists to develop an effective Learning Commons. We help counter limits on librarians’ effectiveness and on the space available for study, research and digital “mountaineering.” Effective spaces enable staff to effectively guide students and faculty to the right material.

We are working on a new Library Operations Model. It focuses on the service platforms. It offers two advantages over traditional modes:

1. Focus
2. Speed

To begin, gather a strategic planning team and start a self study. We can help develop activities to guide you through library service changes. If you need some ideas on how to start a workshop, take a look at Amy Hewitt’s SOAR sample agenda.

Next Generation Library Vision

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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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Review and Renew to keep your Library Thriving

Our clients seek us out because, as library consultants, we offer a straightforward process geared specifically for libraries. For example, how does one develop a library “from scratch?” What services and space planning concepts should be used? What are the steps in developing the library’s goals, objectives and strategies?

Our assessments can help create the next generation library and/or learning space, and we have helped countless librarians and archivists develop and enhance their services. Sometimes, the library staff needs to understand and measure the print and archive collection(s), examining different storage solutions. Other times, the library needs a library building program (ex. learning commons, reference areas, campus innovation centers, etc.); sometimes the learning organization needs a complete rethink. We do it all.

Our research suggests that a thriving learning organization continually identifies and measures library services to stay current. We use a balanced scorecard approach; our research utilizes ethnographic assessment techniques and idea-generating workshops to help create energy for change. For example, we share prototype ideas and facilitate webinars that explore user behavior. We integrate the latest library information systems: our wealth of technology and hardware knowledge helps our clients shape the learning organizations of the future.

Another area of exploration is the Makerspace; these creative spaces are a  place where the community can create, invent, and learn. Before considering the development of a MakerSpace in your library, archive or museum, consider a library services and operations plan to clarify your needs and vision.

Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces can be used to develop a self assessment and start developing your learning organization. The Library Journal’s July 2015 article on Makerspaces illustrates how communities are adapting to the MakerSpace movement. Libraries are reaching new customers: people interested in knowledge sharing and 3D printing; book printing; creating plastic items; robots; and IT networking technology. For example, the IdeaLAB, Hive @ central, Maker Jawn and The Bubbler are examples cited in this article. Each of these MakerSpaces illustrate the variety of options available to consider in the learning organization.

Are you considering new strategies for your learning organization? Contact Aaron Cohen Associates.

Below is a picture from our work with the Hillsborough County Public Library/John F. Germany Planning Project

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The Library as Learning Organization

Developing the library as a learning organization is a steady trend in both academic and public libraries. Certainly, there is a need for a new leadership approach that will create an adaptable, balanced structure. According to Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline, “Ultimately, leaders intent on building shared visions must be willing to continually share their personal visions.” ACA is working on a number of projects where success is created by the successful: they are making a conscious choice to achieve greater balance with a learning-organization approach.

The development of such an organization requires staff to focus on building a shared vision.  We work with the staff to gain structured feedback. We might discuss how the library is expected to provide digital services, user space and print collections. We ask questions, such as: is it really the library’s vision to defend manual processing? Like other organizations, the development of a learning organization needs to be well coordinated.

The learning organization requires continuous investment in manpower, space, coordination and fundraising. It needs to be both adaptable and locally controlled. The focus must be on improving the quality of the user experience, while examining future trends. For example, how do young adults use technology? Pew Research indicates that 98% of “millenials”  use the Internet : Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 . Three fourths (77%) have a smartphone and tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%) Additionally, 79% of Millennials believe that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage.

Yet, they know that important information is not always available online.

According to Pew, “62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that. Therefore, the library still has an important role to play in both the digital and print worlds.

Together, we can build better learning organizations and avoid the “negative spiral” that stems from a lack of direction. Start a planning study to develop a sharing culture in your academic or public library community.

Library Consultant Predictive Model

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Collection Preservation in the Digital World

In today’s changing world,  library collection and preservation services need to be adaptable to the current user’s needs. Consider the library with valuable space on campus or downtown: should they use that space for valuable books and materials? Or keep it more open with tech and Wi-Fi access?

An outdated customer experience and disengaged employees can quickly make a library seem irrelevant. When collection and service  strategies lose focus,  funding pressure arises…and libraries fall under attack. Some “hotspots” are easy to see: passive collection spaces quickly look like good candidates to be taken over by administrators to make room for faculty or IT.

But what if that space could be repurposed for project-based work areas? Maybe a new Makerspace or learning commons that includes adaptable, flexible display areas and collaborative seating. This insight lead Aaron Cohen Associates /Library Consultant to a new concept, a library space program that focuses on new strategies and configurations for conservation and access.

The ALCTS Preservation Showdown at the American Library Association (ALA), moderated by Annie Peterson (Preservation Librarian, Tulane University), illustrated the strategic challenges facing library collections and their caretakers. The program invited librarians from esteemed institutions, including Harvard and Johns Hopkins, to participate. Two teams went head-to-head in a debate format on the following topic:

“Funding to support access to rare book and manuscripts collections should be entirely dedicated to digitization, not to conservation treatment of original artifacts.”

The reaction from the audience and the participants was fascinating. It illustrated that library bottlenecks arise when we do not balance preservation with digital access to collections. Debate participants’ statements were indeed logical; however, the discussion also brought out emotional responses that showed the severe shortage of collection development solutions associated with library funding.

Our Library Architecture project work is also about access and conservation. Below is a visual of the conceptual process by Renzo Piano building workshop for the new National Library of Greece. The process engaged both the needs for conservation and access to historic and important literature.

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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.

golden-ratiogolden-ratioplan

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Library Coding Classes / Crowdsourcing Fundraising Ideas

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 user

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What Makes a Great Library for Today and Tomorrow

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).

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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.

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