Archive for October, 2014

7 spatial modes for planning libraries

According to the American Library Association, there are 120,096 libraries in the United States. Although the U.S. is a complex and dynamic country, too many libraries are housed in out-dated facilities that, in their rigidity, de-emphasize the potential aspects of their use. It is difficult to represent the rich world of today’s multifaceted experiences in flat-lands that look backward, and, essentially, ignore the on-going information revolution.

Although staffs continue to migrate library services toward e-resources, their work environments in these buildings emphasize traditional, paper-based operations. Too many of them contain imposing desks; reading rooms outfitted with almost indestructible tables and chairs; walls and walls of book stacks; outmoded, low tech program rooms; too large and out-dated technical services/operations areas.

Escaping from these flat-lands means re-envisioning the facilities by emphasizing library performance related to customer needs. Simplicity is the key according to Christine Congdon, Donna Flynn and Melanie Redman Harvard Business Review balancing “We” and “Me”

HRB States – “The best collaborative spaces also support solitude” – From our perspective, the best libraries and learning spaces support 7 different spatial modes of learning. Any up-date or major renovation must take into consideration functional relationships, and be driven by the 7 library interior spatial modes:

  • touchpoint
  • social
  • reflective
  • collaboration
  • presentation
  • physical collection
  • services/operations
  • Five of these modes directly interface with customers. A sixth mode relates to the deposit print collection, if it still exists. The seventh mode concerns staff services/operations.

    modes of learning in libraries

    modes of learning in libraries

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    The Library; long lived and adaptable

    As libraries come to understand their need for collections, they must recognize that the book can be in many different formats. In a recent article by the Economist, the transformation of the book is taking off. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers – book and e-book research, consumer book sales was 15.1 billions dollars in 2009.

    In the past, the majority of book sales were in print. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predict by 2018; 7.9B will be sold in print and 8.7B will be sold in e-book sales/equivalent. The prediction means that we will be living with books and e-books for a long time.

    The book is a really competitive technology – it is portable, hard to break, has high resolution pages and as Russell Grandinetti from Amazon stated; a “long battery life”.

    We believe that books are part of an ecosystem of library spaces. They require strategic space planning to determine how to distribute technology, collections, seating and staff.

    Our studies show that the most successful library environments provide a range of spaces. Spaces can be planned to manage distraction; take a break, etc. Libraries can be flexible with adaptive interiors that can respond easily to dynamic operational and technological requirements.

    What does it take to develop a high quality library that meets or exceeds “best practices” – what are some best practices?

    Below is a recent sketch from Aaron Cohen – ACA’s Seating Best Practices:

    learning-spacesion-standard

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