• Library Planning Research

    The Library Program: a Vital First Step in Design

    Aaron Cohen Associates’  library programs have improved the design of libraries worldwide, integrating architecture, IT and service. A program is the first step in the conceptual design process; it is vital to give it time and attention. As part of our program work, we build connections between people, facilitate workshops and offer solutions for space and service challenges. 

    A library program outlines where seating, computers, lounge seats and group study area are placed. They also show where the library provides circulation and reference services. The seating spaces can be social, collaborative, or quiet and have adaptable furniture.

    The library program can have a profound influence on the quality of your library environment. It is important that a program is adaptable, able to respond to the changing needs of patrons. In addition, careful choices of furniture and lighting can enhance and modernize your space. Here are some factors to consider when developing a program:

    • Make sure your program and planning documents are easy to read and free from complex solutions.
    • If you are considering new seating, test the library space. We recommend self-sustaining scenarios/solutions and interventions. Demo the furniture, ask users what they think, run a library planning workshop, etc.
    • Ensure your library design accentuates natural light and fresh air.
    • Try to incorporate flexible, stackable furniture and moveable walls to maximize flexibility. Spaces should serve multiple purposes when possible.
    • Avoid fabrics, soft furnishings and broad-loom carpets; these materials make it harder to keep the library clean.
    • Use a variety of lighting: spotlights, up-lighters and diffused lighting controlled with dimmer switches can provide flexibility for different functions.
    • Provide book walls with plenty of new books to add more energy to your library.
    • Organize sufficient storage space to keep all equipment, last copy and special collections, so that work surfaces are clear and free.
    • Ask lots of questions, listen to your users and explore their vision.
  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Aaron Cohen Library Consultant Experience

    Despite being just 47 years ago, Aaron Cohen Associates, Ltd has snagged commissions in high-profile library projects that any consulting business in the world would envy.

    Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and Alex Cohen, MLS (library consultant) is aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; The Cohen’s credit their library, archive and IT planning experiences with bringing awareness to user needs, bold methodologies that provide data / information and a diversity of experiences that help solve problems for our clients.

    The firm was founded in 1972 by Aaron Cohen, AIA and Elaine Cohen, Med, where the two developed an architectural design business. Their firms first project was a library planning workshop for the federal government. Soon after they went on to develop over 1,000 academic, public, school, government and special libraries — and there the practice grew to include their son Alex Cohen, MLS . The team is based in the New York Hudson Valley with clients around the world.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD frequently experiments with library architecture and IT solutions, a theme we focus on includes adaptive library design — Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD – 5 modes of learning and user characterization studies keeps it fresh by staying pragmatically flexible i.e. we design our models based on the behavior of the user.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    Is Your Digital System Draining Productivity?

    Modern organizations often pride themselves on usage of digital material—but poor management of IT content  and digital knowledge resources can actually reduce productivity. Some IT databases are not designed for today’s communication needs, and user interfaces can be confusing. Despite being “modern,” these systems do not automatically improve productivity. 

    Our library consulting team can perform an IT healthcheck. Our planning methodology can be applied to reorganizing digital assets, just as we help our clients reorganize physical space. We can support the end user regardless of whether the library is physical or virtual.

    As with a physical space, the IT systems require regular review. Are they serving the user? Are they as efficient and effective as they should be? An IT healthcheck will help your team to better serve your company’s objectives. 

    We can provide an assessment and recommendations that will simplify complex IT systems. We can offer short-term gains and define long-term improvements to the IT database, platform and system. 

    Contact us today to get started!

    IT Healthcheck – Contact Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    Resolve to Update Your Library in 2019

    As time and technology advance, a library must keep pace with community needs. It may be time to develop a strategic or master plan, or to undertake a review and redesign to modernize a space. ACA can leverage our decades of experience to guide stakeholders through the process and ensure a good outcome.

    The first step is to look at existing space and services.  What services are offered—or not offered? What needs to be added? What needs to be left behind?

    To make these decisions, we focus on future needs, such as social collaboration, reference and technology access. Then, we develop a program and design that will meet these needs, following a timeline and phases with specific milestones.

    ACA will work with you to:

    • Review existing conditions: space, service and staff.
    • Consider future needs and ways to fill in the gaps: more collaborative space? Fewer print titles? More programming rooms?
    • Develop a program and design to meet the needs and modernize the space.

    Want more information? Contact Us!

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    Improve the Library, Improve the Community

    Libraries have long been the heart of the communities they serve.  Eric Klinenberg is a pioneer promoting such social infrastructure as a way to improve lives. As author of Palaces for the People, he has come to the same conclusion that we have in our 47-year history planning libraries: if you build new libraries, communities grow and thrive.

    Sometimes it seems impossible to get support for the local library; funds are often tight, and people have a negative view of the space, creating a vicious cycle. Restricted library funding can have real consequences, including underdeveloped children’s and teen services. This in turn affects the youths’ ability to network, thrive in their community and grow into well-rounded individuals. Kids may just “hang out” in the street or get chased away from public areas like stores or parks. Eric Klinenberg analyzes this problem and offers examples of the public library as a solution. The library offers kids a “third place” and a shared home away from home. This reduces their isolation and improves the community.

    Part of providing this social infrastructure is designing spaces that allow for various activities: quiet work, social interaction and so on. Aaron Cohen Associates’ Five Modes of Learning Workshops provide a platform to analyze how people use library spaces and how they may be improved to support more activities. It offers guidance on how to distribute the library functions in a manageable pattern, using behavior as an underlying guide for the design.

    To determine where the behavioral modes fit into the library, we use a hands-on method called the Visual Scan. Together the five modes of learning and Visual Scan enables our team to create innovations including more group study spaces and flexible, collaborative areas.

    Tomorrow, November 30th, we will host a workshop in NYC at Steelcase. We will examine how we can redefine the library experience. Join us! – CLICK HERE –

  • Library Planning Research

    Improve the Perception of Your Library “Brand”

    Today, a library “brand” is often supported by a website and an app, in addition to the space. When a library user fails to use the library’s website, the library brand takes a hit. When the library’s design does not provide its intended use, the library decreases in perceived value. Every library is thus invested in the performance of their brand.

    According to our research,  a library is only as effective as its design. For instance, a beautiful library with an atrium has an advantage over a small branch library with no room. On the other hand, if a beautiful library does not provide the right spaces and services, the perceived value declines. To develop an effective design, we study user needs and group interactions. Such behavior translates into what we call the five modes of learning: reflective, social, collaborative, flexible and touch point. For example, users may read quietly or work collaboratively; they need space for both.

    Our library programming work breaks down the library collections, seating and staff requirements. Our methods are built on Schein’s cultural model. Interactions are broken into three cultural modes:

    1. Artifacts and Creations
    2. Espoused Values
    3. Basic Assumptions

    Learn More about Schein’s methods for knowledge management

    To obtain the greatest value, create spaces that relate to user needs. For example, if there is an underused space on campus that is old and out of date it may be time to do a library planning study. When we undertake such a study, visit the campus, facilitate exchanges, and develop a master library plan that is based on interactions between users and their environment.

    Once you complete this type of study, you will be able to categorize user needs, and make your library accessible. This improves the perception of your library “brand.”


    Join us November 30, 2018 at Steelcase NYC for an exciting program to learn about library design, programming and planning.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Space Planning

    Planning a Redesign? Let Human Behavior be Your Guide

    For an effective library redesign, let human behavior be your guide. In our work, we have found that people engage in five types of behavior: reflective, social, presentation, collaboration and touchpoint (contact with staff). This concept relates to furniture as well: Steelcase’s  Library Transforms to Learning Commons defined private/alone, private/together, and public/together spaces as part of their strategies to integrate new contemporary furniture into the learning environment.

    Want to learn more about how human behavior can guide design? Join us on November 30, 2018 at Steelcase Worklife in New York. During this one-day workshop, we will share the Five Modes of Learning model and how it can inform your design choices. Aaron Cohen, AIA, will review the ways people use the library and share examples of successful design. Through group discussions and tours of the Steelcase showroom, we will help you determine the goals and objectives of your next library improvement project.

    During this workshop, we will share our programming methods. Creating a library program is a way to outline your space planning requirements. The program is simply a spreadsheet with each space and the square footage required. The list is used to develop an architectural plan that can be used to fund a building project or start an improvement project. Model programs also allow your community members, students and faculty to give early feedback on their potential needs in the new environment.

    Ultimately, this workshop will help you modify design concepts and make the best architecture and interior design choices. When users see their needs met in the new building, they will embrace the library as a community center and a space for innovation.


    JOIN US – NOVEMBER 3, 2018 AT STEELCASE NYC ONE DAY WORKSHOP


    JOIN US – NOVEMBER 3, 2018 AT STEELCASE NYC ONE DAY WORKSHOP

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    Save Space and Add More Seats to Your Library

    Does your library need to re-balance its print collections?

    Do you need a small repository to increase the library’s seating count?

    How can libraries increase space utilization and improve service?  In our early days, Aaron Cohen Associates programmed library buildings to hold a lot of books. To meet ACRL storage standards, a library consultant was normally hired to determine the number of linear feet of shelving required for the library. Simply put, we helped determine the amount of books a new or existing library building could hold.

    At that time, improving service meant increasing circulation. But in the 2000s a paradigm shift occurred: the Internet, smart phones and cafes emerged. As a result, the libraries’ service declined: the amount of active space was restricted, and passive print shelving and circulation flat-lined. In the modern library, shelving is giving way to an increase in space: for collaboration, for study, for programs.

    But what to do with the books patrons still need? Automated print storage could be the answer: units can be built for small and large budgets, either horizontal or vertical. Solutions can be designed to take advantage of the cubic feet available. Storage is also essential for Fighting Format Rot, according to David Pogue. With the right system, libraries can save old formats, scan them and store them before they are discarded and lost.

    The trend toward active learning should extend to the collections: libraries have added writing centers, learning centers and math centers, and more open space. However, collections remain passive: housed on open shelving, taking up valuable learning spaces.

    Below is an example of a product that can be used for vertical storage. This is just an example to help you to start to learn how you can save space and add more seats to your library. Contact us to determine your library’s options.

  • Library Planning Research

    Assembling Your Knowledge Management Team

    It is good practice to periodically examine the “roster” of your digital or physical library team, to seek ways to improve it. When developing or evaluating a team, each member will have certain characteristics that make them well-suited for a certain role. We run organizational development workshops to help libraries and digital asset teams maximize their human resources.

    According to ACA’s 45 years of building program research, successful library organizations are made up of a diverse mix of job titles, which require diverse human characteristics. Librarians and Knowledge Workers can be specialists, reference people or technical services pros.  Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD work with library staff and knowledge management teams to identify and shape the teams and increase effectiveness.

    Below are characteristics of each team member; we developed these based on the Belbin team building framework.

    Resource Investigator

    • Their inquisitive nature helps them find ideas to bring back to the team.
    • Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. A natural networker – the go-to person to test a new opportunity.
    • Challenges: Over-optimistic; can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.
    • A good person to follow up and build on research and delivery partnerships.

    Team Worker

    • The glue that keeps the team moving, using their versatility to identify the work required. The person that will complete the work on behalf of the team.
    • Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. A great listener who can avert friction between team members.
    • Challenges: Indecisive in crunch situations; avoids confrontation between strong willed team members.
    • Will be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.

    Coordinator

    • Helps the team focus the library service objectives. A person who can draw out other team members and delegate work.
    • Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent and builds on it. Goals setter.
    • Challenges: Leaders can be manipulative; they can offload work to other members reducing team effectiveness.
    • Can delegate work others, leaving themselves with limied tasks or challenges.

    Management Consultant

    • A highly creative person that is good at solving problems in unconventional ways.
    • Strengths: Creative, imaginative, dynamic-thinking, concept / ideas generator and problem solver.
    • Challenges: Might not be able to focus; may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
    • Can forget the good ideas and try to develop additional ones when none is necessary.

    Assessment Evaluator

    • Assessment professional; a good person to make impartial judgement when required. A good person to weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.
    • Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. A person that can see the options and recommend next steps accurately.
    • Challenges: Can be critical, lacks the drive and ability to inspire others.
    • Not all can make a quick decision. This staff member can be slow to come to decisions.

    Specialist

    • The project specialist has in-depth knowledge in a key delivery area.
    • Strengths: Dedicated, a self-starter and always moving forward with work. They will research and apply their knowledge management skills.
    • Challenges: May stick to the technicalities and not address the goals and objectives.
    • Can research a topic and overload if you don’t support their drive to find solutions to information resource needs/integration.

    Management Shaper

    • The staff member that will drive the team. This staff member will ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.
    • Strengths: Can handle the pressure and deliver. A dynamic staff member that has the drive and courage to overcome any knowledge management obstacles.
    • Challenges: A person who isn’t afraid to get in your face; Can offend people’s feelings.
    • Sometimes  need to get things done and they get aggressive, which can be harnessed to efficiencies when recognized.

    Implementer

    • A knowledge manager that can develop a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.
    • Strengths: Efficient and Practical, reliable and driving. This staff member turns ideas into actions and organizes work that needs to be done.
    • Challenges: Inflexible nature can be slow to respond to new possibilities.
    • Can slow down positive change if they are too inflexible.

    Completer/Finisher

    • Every project needs a person who will polish and scrutinize knowledge management work for errors; Research requires the highest standards of quality control.
    • Strengths: Searching out errors is natural to a conscientious knowledge worker. It is important to finish the project with defined outcomes including key performance indicators.
    • Challenges: Knowledge workers can be reluctant to delegate tasks which slows down progress.
    • Perfection is a strength until it impedes the delivery of knowledge resources.
  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    Digital Asset Management: the Next Wave

    A high-performance Knowledge Management application for a library requires functions for both individual and the team needs. We design models for the metadata framework for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems, or digital libraries. Our team of librarians research and populate fields with possible values, including description of the attribute, type of metadata, and relations to other attributes.

    Our Digital Asset Management work includes the development of functional programs such as:

    Business Arc

    • hitecture: User stories and business processes
    • Application Architecture: DAM software development
    • Information Architecture: Conceptual representation of information
    • Integration Architecture: Research all technical integrations enabling the DAM system to connect with other knowledge bases
    • Technical Architecture: Information regarding the hardware, software, etc.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD can identify and plan next generation libraries: digital asset management systems, digital libraries and archive systems. We can help to:

    Determine the search queries that users may type in to find assets using your digital system

    Determine, prepare and design the training requirements and modules for training users and librarians to offer knowledge management services

    We are constantly researching the evolving communication needs of sales and marketing staff to understand how DAM applications create pathways for business. We know that functions emerge from framing the content for use. Our Knowledge Management professionals analyze user functions to determine UX interfaces that interact with the DAM system; this could be a VR system or a content portal built on library information system knowledge.

    We can show libraries and other firms how the DAM will function as a 21st century research portal or marketing library. This work enables global businesses such as healthcare or research centers to do things faster, better and cheaper. Below are some links that will help you start your research.