In preparation for our Smart Library Workshop (November 3, 2016, 9:30 am-4 pm), we outlined six steps toward improving your library & learning environment. Many libraries and learning spaces require new space/service requirements, as today’s patrons use both print and digital resources. Enabling the learning space to be flexible – so light, air and vista permeates the whole space with a sense of unity is possible with the right methodology. Below, six simple ways to make change happen:
1. Have a dialogue with stakeholders about the library/learning space. Allowing all parties to “have a say” is a vital part of this process. We utilize data-gathering exercises that allow input into the process. We also employ the Visual Scan, a facilitated tour, to understand user needs and staff perspective.
2. Create a communication plan. No longer a “nice to have” amenity, such a plan enables staff to develop policies essential to improve reference / customer service requirements.
3. Develop a library building program that will detail learning spaces, partners and services. Libraries should inspire partnerships, programs, events; how do we create collaboration space? The building program should outline existing services as well as potential new library services and space options.
4. Visualize the physical learning space. Physical constraints are always a long-term challenge. Successful organizations often find themselves “squeezed” when demand outweighs space. Visualizing preservation, conservation and technical services office space differently to harmonize all necessary openings with good human proportions is required. Hire a library consultant and architect to ensure that physical constraints are documented and analyzed.
5. Consider design scenarios for long-term success. Changes to library/learning spaces can be expensive, depending on the solution. Often, a challenge to the library’s existing services can lead to an inexpensive solution. We work with stakeholders to do re-envisioning exercises that help them understand what the library/learning space has to offer and what might be changed.
6. Build consensus with help from professionals who are experienced in library design. Recommendations are most effective when all stakeholders contribute to the master plan. Staff members need to understand the logic of the plan, efficiencies gained and future-oriented thinking involved. The staff need to own the implementation plan; they need a role developing strategies to improve the outcome.