Posts Tagged ACADEMIC LIBRARY

The Analog Library and Architecture that Heals

The library building, once a fortress for knowledge, is ready to undertake a renaissance and change for the better. There’s no question that we’re living in a digital age, but in the “The Revenge of the Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter,” David Sax tells the stories of businesses that have found a market selling “vintage” items like paper notebooks, records and stationery. Recently, we found that libraries are having the same renewed interest. Especially, during their book sales and public events.

The PBS recording between WNYC Leonard Lopate and Author David Sax. includes a conversation about the renewed interest analog items. We can validate this notion from our experiences in the library world. During the interview, the author discusses the limited appeal of the purely digital life and the need to have books. Interestingly, we find this opportunity at every library we visit. So, the margin of success is obvious – community libraries and sharing local analog content distinguishes itself from the digital experience.

A better library building and service, flexible in a sense that the library has inspiring spaces, is perpetual. The need for more storage of books and materials is becoming reality with technology. Even in the small town we need to create jobs, get our services locally and create spaces that enhance our community.

We can learn from lessons from around the world to help us. For example, Michael Murphy (architect) provides an inspiring TED talk about how we can create a better world through architecture. He says that low fab techniques such as sourcing locally and giving people the dignity and role to play in the development of a hospital will get better results. We can see many similarities between his talk and the work we do at Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD

You may see the Michael Murphy TED Talk – Architecture that Heals

Below is a graphic we developed to understand the difference between library space planning, technology and design. The world is not a binary thing – we need to be able to experience our libraries and learning environments as shared environments for growth.

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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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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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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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Makerspace and 3D Printing: the Future is Here

The newest frontier in library service is the development of a MakerSpace, which can include access to 3D technology. Mick Ebeling at Not Impossible Labs provides an inspiring example of how 3D printers can make a difference in the world.

Why should the Library offer a MakerSpace environment? According to Mick, its time to start planning for the impossible – the future!

The library is an ideal place to introduce people to 3D technology. By providing computers and software to work on 3D projects, as well as a place to print these new creations, the library can help people step into a new world. They can be the “go-to” place for their students and patrons by enabling them to send the file(s) they want printed. The library will provide a time/cost estimate and print the items for pickup. See 3D rose example

As with any transition, libraries and educators need to be prepared before they offer such a service.There are few things more frustrating to patrons than seeing a service offered that then can’t be delivered! To avoid this, look for 3D printers that don’t require a lot of maintenance, and make sure staff have the technical training to manage the equipment, enabling them to share “making” skills with the community. For example, what will you do if you need to “level the build plate” or get help when the machine gets stuck? Investing in the necessary training for staff is essential; in a digital world, the library staff is actually more important than ever.

The Library MakerSpace will take a lot of work from the community to get started. The library staff will need to develop policies and procedures for MakerSpace services and equipment. For example, if you want to allow people use to hands-on tools you will need to provide space to work and a reasonable length of time to do so. This requires user policies, plans for time limits, and more.

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How does the 3D printer work?

The 3D printer system works like an automated cake maker; cold plastic is loaded into the machine and fed through a tube that is heated. The liquidized plastic is pushed through a tube like a decorator that writes “happy birthday” on a cake. This is a simplistic description that can be expanded to incorporate metal, wood and biodegradable plastic printing.

Product Ideas

The costs for entry into 3D library makerspaces is roughly $1,500 to $2,500 depending on the Makerbot Replicator. It comes with software that makes it possible to develop objects. Other manufacturers are Polyprinter and Lulzbot Mini. In addition, Lulzbot and Cura is a good hardware / software combination. Download Cura – free 3D software.

Software Ideas

Software is an important part of the 3D printing experience. AutoCAD works very well with the 3D printer. However, there are other open source options – Meshmixer, Tinkercad, Cura and/or AutoDesk 123D. This software needs to be intuitive and easy to work with and designed specifically to produce 3D-printable model files.

Once your library is also a makerspace, you may be able to connect your library to other MakerSpaces. Go to Skyforge and check out this service; it links all of the 3D printers together.

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Planning to Transform Your Library

Innovation has long been the backbone of library science practitioners. We are a library planning firm dedicated to organizational development, space planning and technology programs. Our project research results from questions our clients ask about management, collection development and architectural design.

To learn about library planning strategies, join us on September 3rd at 2:30pm (EST) for planning to transform your library.

To pay for the session go to – LIBRARY CONSULTANT WEBINAR – REGISTER

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Nomads of the Academic Library

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.

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Making the Library a Destination

As part of our workshops and ongoing research process, we perform ethnographic analysis.  This kind of research is invaluable for developing site-specific strategies because it enables participants to share their views of the interior and exterior of a library. Please take our library outcomes survey on our web site.

During the course of formal (surveys, interviews) and informal (observation) assessment, we look at furnishings, computers, equipment and exterior entrance and flow in/out of the building. Throughout this process we generate quantitative and qualitative data that is used to isolate behavioral patterns that will ultimately enable us to formulate solutions for the library space.

A few years ago, we did a full day workshop at the University of Manchester for CILIP.  It was a wonderful event to share knowledge with 25 British Librarians, as we talked about library space planning and learned about best practices.  The participants were very interested in new ideas for libraries; they could see the complexity of change and needed some answers. It was a great opportunity to tour the library and learn about the library director’s plans to improve the building. It was obvious the library was a great institution; history seeped out of its pores.  However, it needed new tools to manage the complex world of libraries.  It needed a new plan.

The Manchester Library recently reopened after an ambitious 50M renovation.  The original building created a pleasing atmosphere, but was not a great place to work or study. Below is a picture of the entryway after the renovation.

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The issues that were addressed by the Manchester renovation came to mind again when I read about the Boston Public Library recently in the New York Times.  According to “Breaking out of the Library Mold, Boston and Beyond” the Boston Public Library is going through a transformation that is noteworthy.  The entryway will be re-imagined with an open lounge area, new books and casual seating and retail space.  According to Amy Ryan, the library will make physical changes to reflect the evolving nature of libraries.

Leaders need to focus on the library as a destination by developing plans for multiple activities and contexts.  They need to understand the characteristics of the library building and services.  They need to work on simple, complicated and complex challenges.  They need to develop new ideas to accelerate improvements.  Our workshops help open up discussions, set up a framework for improvements, stimulate attractors and encourage dissent and diversity of ideas. Our workshops help participants learn about the library, creating opportunities for new ideas to emerge.

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Planning the Academic Library

Our library consultants are focused on the development of the academic library. We believe the academic library is a place for peer and collaborative exchanges. We believe that hybrid and online learning platforms offer a space for embedded librarians to improve student learning outcomes and contribute to the overall instructional efficacy of teachers.  We believe that online discussion boards, a staple of assessment for online learning, require libraries and librarians to enhance support, for both students and instructors. We believe that the academic library can enhance graduation rates. Our strategies reflect the need to make libraries and librarians more effective in the struggle to improve student success.

The 2013 Ithaka S+R Library Survey outlines how academic libraries can develop new priorities for the 21st century.  For example, the survey states that libraries were more interested in discovery systems in 2010.  Today, most library directors are interested in information literacy and strategies to enhance academic support services.  The report stated that 2/3’s of library directors are moving toward digital resources; something not surprising. The report stated that funding is the largest problem for academic libraries, requiring justifications for investment(s).

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of Education, stated:  “Everyone deserves access to high-quality learning opportunities, from preschool to middle school and all the way through college. In order to achieve Pres. Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020, we must work to ensure that everyone has a chance to enroll and complete post secondary education.” As colleges, and community colleges in particular, are the cornerstone of this presidential goal, we  have identified the academic library as being an integral part of the process.  We believe the best strategy to accomplish these goals is to invest in collaborative spaces with professional and peer learning activities.  The library can play a role as a physical space and online by providing embedded librarians to support student success.

According to the American Institute for Research, graduation rates in the United States are not inspiring.  Less than one-third of entering community college students and less than one-half of entering four-year college students ever graduate. Dropouts from college impact the economy in terms of lost earnings and taxes to the tune of about $4.5 billion a year.

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS headline dated November 26, 2011 declared: CUNY Dropout Rate Shows Public Schools Aren’t Preparing Kids.  The article went on to state: “Four out of five students attending CUNY community colleges need to remedial class work in math, reading and writing.” Within six years 51% have dropped out and, of the rest, only 28% graduate.

As for the graduation rate at CUNY’S four-year colleges, the following was obtained from their individual websites:

  • Brooklyn College – 27%
  • Baruch College – 34%
  • City College – 30%
  • Hunter College – 19%
  • Lehman College – 14%
  • Queens College – 26%
  • York College – 3%.

Granted, many of the students work or have other responsibilities and cannot graduate within four years.  For example, the six-year graduation rate at Brooklyn College rises to 48.2% and it is possible that the eight-year graduation rate may rise to over 50%.  The numbers are still problematic.

Of course, students’ learning cultures, family backgrounds and socioeconomic levels also affect graduation rates.  Remedial programs, tutoring and mentoring do work, however.  The data indicates that 27% of community college students utilizing CUNY’s intensive remedial programs graduate in two years while only 7% using their own resources graduate in two years.

We have an idea…and an action plan.  We want our academic libraries to become incubators that help to increase graduation rates.  Since most information perused by students in our two- and four-year colleges is now digital, space can be freed within these facilities for host of programs including digital tutors, peer support, staff counselors, etc.

To this end we are holding a library planning workshop on May 27, 2014 at the Steelcase Showroom in New York City at Columbus Circle.  Please come and join us.

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Libraries are Inspiring Places

Libraries are unique cultural and educational places that offer collaborative learning opportunities.  The library is a set of service concept(s) that provides opportunities for activity, help and engagement.  According to Harvard Business Review “IDEO’s Culture of Helping,”the knowledge worker or users needs a culture where help is embedded.   They need libraries for brainstorming and collaborative / project based work.

According to the Pew Internet – “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities”, 67% percent of respondents would be personally impacted if their library closed. The patrons that use the library know its value in terms of the space.  There are computing, socializing and areas to check out books.

It is a challenge for librarians and educators to show how “collaborative generosity” can be the norm in your community.  The secret is to provide your community with a library that has enough seats for all potential learning activities.  The increase in the amount of space for each new learning activity (reflective, collaborative, social, etc.) will enable opportunities for collaborative support.

At ALA Midwinter (#ala2014mw), librarians and educators discussed how to assess the under-served population.  The dialog created some confusion over whether it was right to study non-user populations as well as user populations.  Libraries need to study their communities strengths first.  Collecting data about how the 29% of users who believe not having a library would make a big impact on their lives will deliver a wealth of data to help build future strategies.

WARM UP EXERCISE: Daniel Dalton in the Buzzfeed community developed a web page that captures some quotes as warm ups for planning and programming. The link includes 28 beautiful quotes about libraries.

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