Archive for December, 2011

the language of library space

A recent article from Inside Higher Education focuses on the need to balance quiet and active spaces in the library. Project Information Literacy study found that students minimize technology use and try to unplug from their overly distracting social networks when working on projects or studying for exams.

During our library planning studies, we have found that all libraries need environments that allow for social, group and individual study. The library plan should include:

  • active space – information commons, learning commons, group collaboration, etc.
  • quiet space – contemplative space for study.
  • According to “The Future of the Academic Library Symposium: Bridging the Gap, Libraries – “need to be in a state of perpetual beta to effect change.” We believe libraries need to experiment with both quiet and active space.

    The University of North Carolina started a Journal of Learning Spaces that is a good place to start an analysis of library space needs. We recommend the journal as a starting point for discussion.

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    program space ideas

    library program environment

    library program environment

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    The New Digital Divide: Library Planning

    An excellent opinion article by Susan P. Crawford, “The New Digital Divide” provides a valid reason why Public Libraries, Special and Academic Libraries provide a value in the digital age. For the majority of citizen’s, the only access they have to medical, law, jobs and skills is through a cell phone. The “poor and working class – either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet.” Indeed, the “library as place” can offer connection speeds as high as Docsis 2.0 and 3.0 or 105 megabits per second, fast enough to download a music album in three seconds. The library can offer high speed connections when wireless is too slow.

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently came out with a study that shows how the divide is affecting economic growth. According to the study, almost 25% of Americans do not have unrestricted access to the Internet. However, roughly 44% of lower income families have some kind of Smart Phones.

    The new digital divide can be combated with a new learning center or library environment. The provision of library internet access will enable the community to use real-time video conferencing and virtual classrooms. It can support job creation, higher quality healthcare, better skills and virtual diplomas. The “library as place” is a way to share our resources and build a better future.

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