• Library Planning Research

    The Library Incubator

    For libraries, the digital revolution is upending standard methods of service. Increasingly, digital formats are replacing paper formats. Books are still in demand and growing in some sectors; textbooks, fiction and non-fiction, periodicals, etc. are being perused on Ipads, Kindles, Nooks and Iphones too. Because online learning is gaining hold, libraries need new strategies to create value. Once the realm of colleges, today, cultural institutions such as public libraries are beginning to see that direct support for the individual and/or creating a small business incubator is a potential area for success.

    Kristin Mcdonough is developing strategies to fund, enhance and serve the NYPL community in the 21st century. The NYPL is awarding libraries with local funding to create new programs such as career support and guidance counselors. For example, the Brooklyn library offers a career coach. Robyn Saunders, a career coach at the Career and Education Information Service at the Bronx Library Center, understands the challenges people have on a job search. She is using the library as an incubator to move from a customary and traditional library service model into on that provides direct community support. Listen to the The Brian Lehrer Show to learn more about their programs to create the library as an incubator.


    A library incubator is a space designed to provide the community with guidance, tutoring and mentoring whenever they need help. Using a library incubator, users can gain assistance from library staff, or local tutors, academic faculty, or, for that matter, other community members. The incubator, in its feature as a physical touch-point for support, provides areas within the library in which to collaborate and work together, ask questions, share notes and information, and perform research.

    A library incubator can function as a linchpin for a series of cultural co-op programs. A blended job support model utilizing co-op and groups programs, can help individuals find a job or create a business. They can use the library to work their way through high school or college, reducing the cost to graduate.

    We are conducting a workshop entitled “The Library as an Incubator for Online Learning” at Georgia Tech on October 26th. In light of this, we have created a research challenge to determine the space, functions, technology and activities in the library incubator program. Please feel free to provide feedback on our web site – FEEDBACK FORM

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology

    Playfully thinking about Library Programming

    Programming Library spaces to improve learning activities can be in different sizes and shapes. According to Aaron Cohen AIA, the library is an incubator and a place for interaction. It is a space that allows for playful activities. Below are images that represents the playfulness of furniture and the types of visualizations during programming we provide to our clients.

    library program consultant

    library consultant seating layout

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    ConnectED – Build Physical and Virtual Library Space

    President Obama unveiled a new initiative called ConnectED to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years, calling on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal.

    The E-rate program allows US libraries to connect to the internet, but is it limited in scope and funding. By expanding the investment in the E-Rate funding program, it will help pay for investments in school and library networks. According to EdTech Magazine, “One of the creators of the E-Rate program, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), said it was time for E-Rate 2.0.”

    The ConnectED program, as outlined by Arne Duncan Secretary of Education, should include the development of a network of educational (library) spaces to facilitate the efficient use of the E-rate program. For ConnectED (#ConnectED) to be successful, it should expand beyond a mere connection and examine public access; strategies that enable and empower people to visit, use and do research with the Internet.

    Andrew Carnegie believed that the library building should have steps, inspiring people to rise up and enter to learn. He stated, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library.”

    The Schools and Libraries program, also known as the E-rate program, makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America. Congress mandated in 1996 that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) use the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to provide discounted eligible telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

    Below is a outline of why the library is an important part of our community. It was developed by the California Library Association – PRToolkit

    They provide a dynamic array of resources, services and programming that help make their communities attractive, vital places for businesses and their employees.

    They help people of all ages and backgrounds to lead better, more satisfying lives. Many libraries offer English classes, foreign language collections and other services to help newcomers adjust to life in a new country.

    They protect our right to know by providing access to a full spectrum of ideas, resources and services. Admission is free. No questions are asked.

    Libraries connect us with books and other materials that help us to learn from the past and prepare for the future. Not just books, but photographs, artifacts, historical documents and other pieces of our heritage that the Internet will never offer.

    From cradle to grave, libraries provide books, classes and other resources to help us keep learning. “Tuition” is free. All it takes is a library card.

    Check out a couple of novels and audio books, some picture books for the kids, some CDs and DVDs and the savings quickly add up. Libraries are paid for with less than 2 percent of all public tax dollars and used by almost two-thirds of the population.

    Libraries provide resources and services that help people of all incomes learn to read, use computers and develop other skills they need to succeed. A report titled “Toward Equality of Access” from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says “.. .if you can reach a public library, you can reach the Internet.”

    Starting with picture books and story-hour and continuing with summer reading and other programs, the library opens the door to learning, imagination and wonder. Kids learn both the thrill and responsibility of owning their own “charge card”¬ one that lets them borrow books, movies, music, games and more.

    Libraries promote a lifelong reading habit starting with story-times for preschoolers and continuing
    with special collections and programs for teens. Many libraries offer book discussion groups, presentations by authors and other book-themed programming for children and adults, also literacy classes for adults.

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    Crowdfunding for Libraries (8 steps)

    As the world gets smaller and more people have access to the internet, we are getting requests to fund local library projects all over the world. These projects are important “peace centers” where young and old can be trained, read a book or meet for a cup of coffee.

    The concept of fundraising for libraries isn’t a new topic. Roberta Stevens, past ALA president 2010-2011 from the Library of Congress, helped develop a framework to help librarians do fundraising. In the past year, technology platforms for fundraising started to offer libraries new ways to raise funds. These programs can be done anywhere in the world. However, a US partner is a good way to make all the connections and validate the process. The Leeway Foundation created a web page as a starting point for anyone looking to do crowdfunding for libraries.

    On the academic side, movement towards crowdfunding is increasing. For example, in U. of Virginia Teams Up With ‘Crowdfunding’ Site to Finance Research stated, “The University of Virginia is one of the first to start such a fund-raising effort through a partnership with a crowdfunding start-up company. UVa is teaming up with Useed, a company focused on promoting fund raising in higher education by soliciting donations for university research projects or student-proposed entrepreneurial projects.”

    According to the Fundraising Toolkit by the American Library Association, there are 8 easy steps to follow:

    1. Recruit Help

    In small or rural libraries, most of the responsibility for leading this effort will fall on the shoulders of the library director or manager, but he or she need not embark on this alone.

    2. Examine your library’s community

    Work with your committee to look at your community’s political, economic, social and cultural environment. What are your community’s strengths? Its challenges? Its important issues? What is happening with education, business, jobs, the arts?

    3. Tie your library to community issues

    If you’ve done a good job evaluating your community, connecting your library with its issues and values should be fairly straightforward. Take the checklist you have created and determine how the library relates to each one.

    4. Develop your case

    People will give to you because you meet needs, not just because you have needs. What are you raising money for, and why is it important?

    5. Identify potential donors

    Who is in a position to support your library? Is it local businesses? A civic or fraternal organization? A book club or garden club? Parents? Which individuals are likely in a position to write a check?

    6. Make your fundraising visible

    Consider planning activities that call attention to your library’s role in the community and its vital services. Events such as book sales, contests, read-a-thons, speaker programs, and others are all great ways to add some spin to your fundraising efforts.

    7. Be realistic about the kinds of fundraising your library can succeed at.

    Be honest. Set goals that are ambitious, but achievable in the context of your community’s size, its resources, and the environment you have evaluated.

    8. Have fun with fundraising!

  • Library Planning Research

    Public Library – Top 10 Libraries for Children

    Libraries are exciting places for children to grow and learn. They are great attractions for local culture, tutoring and making friends. In the US, there are many public libraries that fit the description as a great place for children to learn. According to Livability – “Top 10 Libraries for Children“, the children’s library is a vital starting point for intellectual, academic and social inspiration for all generations.

    While styles and materials may vary in different parts of the world, the children’s library is an important space concern. Is it designed for noise? Is it designed for quiet reading? How large is the story-time room? What types of programming will occur is the children’s library? How close is it to the doorway or entrance?

    According to Stephen Abram, there have been many ROI studies in the past. Each tried to outline the hard and soft costs of the public library and compare them to the advantages the library provides to the community. For example, the library provides the community with:

    • Public libraries are cost-effective information providers
    • Public libraries support the local economy
    • Public libraries support the cultural industry sector
    • Public libraries support American culture
    • Public libraries support a democratic society
    • Public libraries support and promote literacy
    • Public libraries support children and students
    • Public libraries support lifelong learning
    • Public libraries help bridge the digital divide

    We have been researching public libraries for many years. Along the way, we found a form to help public libraries show their value. The children’s library is a great value in terms of cost savings per family. We believe the children’s library is vital to the growth of the public library.
    Below is a one page valuation page. It was developed to help public libraries share their value.

    This image was developed to help public libraries show their value

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    Library Planning – Kickstarting the Design Process

    It is important to remember that funding a library improvement project does not have to follow a prescribed linear course. In Crowdfunding the Library, we noted that librarians and educators can generate interest to improve libraries.

    Crowd-funding is a way to kick-start a library building improvement plan. For example, there are web sites (kickstarter.com) and if you are an academic library Bill Gates recommends (microryza.com). Both are websites offer funding opportunities with a solid plan.

    Organizing the funding process can trigger additional opportunities that will gain traction in your community. One way to begin this process is to ask the community – What makes a beautiful library?25 Stunning Libraries From Around The World” provides inspiration – ideas that you can use to get people excited about libraries.

    Remember libraries are not just about books or e-books. They are social spaces, places for tutoring and collaboration, culture and programming. We are planning libraries that are digital as well as social. They are integrated with library information systems that enable circulation, reference, access and ebook access. According to Publishers Weekly – Bookstats trade publishing “Total e-book sales rose 44.2% in 2012, to $3.04 billion and accounted for 20% of trade revenue in the year, up from 16% in 2011.” The 44% increase in e-book sales is an important indicator that access to the library is digital as well as physical. Kick-starting the fundraising process will help the community understanding that these changes are an opportunity.

    The practice of library master planning helps and supports local fundraising efforts. The studies help answer questions about the future, providing opportunities to align the community. Fundraising effors will help your library solve problems and generate experiments with new services.

    Kick-start the programming process and start communicating new ideas. Use Kickstarter to get the ball rolling, enabling your library to create an improvement plan. If you are a global library in need of support, Deborah Jacobs blog about the development of libraries with Gates funding may be a starting point.