• Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    The Impact Assessment: A Powerful Tool

    Library impact assessments can be self-studies. They can come in one, two or three forms: Lib Quals (created by the Association of Research Libraries), visual scans and/or environmental scans. A Visual Scan is an observational assessment of the interior of the library facility. An environmental scan observes the internal and external physical and social environments. This holistic approach can detect strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). It promises to influence current and future strategic plans.

    Our company, Aaron Cohen Associates (ACA), has developed an in-depth predictive model for library services and spaces by creating an impact assessment that combines the best of the visual and environmental scans. We believe this is an important strategy for our academic library clients: they need to extract maximum value from their environment. In other words, they need to strive for a sustainable and functional competitive advantage.

    Today, the staffs of successful academic libraries, and the educational organizations to which they report, must identify and quickly respond to transitory competitive advantages. They must then move on to the next short-lived technological and market upgrades. The library staff must be open to constantly learning and adopting new services—because environments are in persistent states of flux.

    Elaine Cohen suggests, “An organization cannot survive with a minimalist approach to the future. Instead, it needs basic strategies that produce sustained changes in behavior and robust improvements in performance. This means that a good predictive model needs to produce a deep and durable impact assessment that both guides and accelerates an holistic approach to overseeing library services and spaces.”

    mattern-library-infrastructure-2x

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

    What Makes a Great Library for Today and Tomorrow

    The library is operating in a very different world today. Technology is constantly evolving within an environment that is increasingly smart, flexible and mobile. Though so much is available on the web, a huge amount of historical content remains un-digitized and hidden. The library of tomorrow should be a public campus that will grow the world’s knowledge base while still providing access to non-digital resources. It will be responsive to changing cultural and digital needs, providing opportunities for dynamic collaboration.

    According to the Horizon Report 2015, “the Lean Startup movement uses technology as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation in a more widespread, cost-effective manner, and provides compelling models” for library leaders and higher-education planners to consider.” The future library needs to favor experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design upfront” development (see HBR Article by Steve Blank).

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    Tomorrow’s users will connect to the public campus on the go: For example, pedestrians will receive “pushed” information from Bluetooth i-beacons near the library, and students will be able to access the cloud for school projects.

    It is time to start developing the next generation libraries, enabling the community to benefit from a variety of knowledge resources. Through an integrated customer service model and tiered support services, the next generation library can enrich the cultural life of a campus, town, city and a nation.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    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.

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    The Library Touch Point

    According to Elaine Cohen, a user touch point affords direct and in-direct contact with library services. It can be a physical or digital connection. Upon entering the library, a touch point should be in full view. It could be a touch screen, a staff service desk or a kiosk at which a customer may gain help.

    Academic, government and public libraries may have several touch points, certainly one near the entry, and others scattered within the facility for reference help, etc. Small libraries may have only one, visible from the door. Below is a visualization of a futuristic library circulation / access services touch point.

    Library Touch Point

    Display shelving and book-stacks featuring the heavily used aspects of the core collection can be considered touch points.
    library
    Although increasing numbers of people prefer to download fiction, non-fiction, class assignments, research materials, business information, etc. onto their mobile devices, some customers still favor print. They like the feel of the newspaper or the book, or the steady image that print affords. Be aware, however, that a growing number of libraries have dispensed with print altogether, and that the trend is accelerating.

    Libraries with important deposit collections, rare books, archives, local history memorabilia, etc. will feature display collections of print.

  • Library Planning Research

    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
  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    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

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Social Library Issues

    Thinking about libraries in new ways

    The library of the future is going to be a collection of activities and books.  The book technology may change from being clay tablets to e-books.  However, learning activities are the core of any library.

    When we design new libraries, we look at potential learning activities.  We examine the combinations of functions from technology to books to learning spaces. These learning activities may use print journals or computers.  The combination of access to intellectual stimulation and space, enabling us to have experiences that enrich our lives.

    Charlie Bennett, an academic librarian at Georgia Tech, delivered a poetic Tedx talk.  He talked about what libraries offer and the value of thinking in new ways about technology and service.  He explored the history of libraries and the factors that lead to the development of learning spaces.  If you would like to be inspired, take 10 mins and listen here to the TED TALK LIBRARIAN.

    Below is a picture of a GT library / learning space.  What does the next generation library look like?IMG_4457

     

     

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology

    Kicking the Tires on MOOC’s and Library Planning

    The MOOC’s offer unique opportunities to educators, librarians and leaders.  They offer a rapid deployment of educational resources, challenging the ways higher education will function in our times.  The MOOC’s are possible because of the availability of a networked world that is now mobile as well as connected.  They offer services to unmet and unsolved educational needs.

    At ALA Midwinter, a panel discussed the advances in MOOC’s and higher education.  Bryan Alexander, Anya Kamenetz, Ray Schroeder, Cathy De Rosa, and Skip Prichard discussed the impact of the MOOC’s and libraries.  Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Vice President of Marketing, shared OCLC collective insight research.  Bryan Alexander author of the The New Digital Storytelling also provided insights.

    In traditional education, MOOC’s mean giving over authority and control of the classroom.  However, according to Georgia Tech, Alumni Magazine “Kicking the Tires on Tech’s first MOOC“, 113,668 students enrolled in the Universities first computational investing MOOC class.  Over 70,000 students watched a video from the course.  The numbers are astounding; the size of the audience is very large.

    The library world understands that local-ness is especially vital in times of rapid change. In other words, they are organizations that can achieve coordination, synergy between higher education offerings and the wider public.  The possibilities of higher education exist; now it is time to develop finders to help our local community improve educational conditions.

    mooc and library

  • Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    Makerspaces in the Library

    The Open Education Database OEDb is tracking the developments of libraries. Back in March, they developed a blog post entitled – a librarian’s guide to makerspaces – stating “making in the 21st century has moved out of the individual workshop and become networked.”

    What is a Makerspace?

    According to Eric Ries, “Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.” The concept of libraries and start ups can be part of the process. They can be set up with pre-configured digital and physical assets.

    3D printing is a tool for the Makerspace environment, although it is not a requirement. It is a machine that can create 3D objects with a multitude of options for product development and analysis. The MCor Technologies Paper Maker is a break-through innovation in 3D printing. It uses standard office paper rather than costlier materials such as plastic. Its retail cost of approximately 50k dollars in comparison to a low cost plastic 3D printing machine at around $1500.

    We are planning to develop a new ecology in the learning environment. It will offer the equipment and tools for communication and presentation, print production, scanning and digitizing in the library. Is the library becoming a MakerSpace?

    The process below is a framework to help you think about how makerspaces can be used in the library.

     

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

    Library as an Incubator

    The idea that a library can be an incubator space and a place for innovation is something many librarians and educators share. We believe libraries can be learning hubs. They can be developed with a solid understanding of learning space design and library planning measurements. For example, “U.S. Plans Global Network of Free Online Courses,” the US government is going to develop “learning hubs” or incubator libraries.

    For Lila Ibrahim, the president of Coursera, “The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.”

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD developed five different learning modes that will support the development of the Library as an Incubator or Learning Hubs

      1. Develop reflective spaces for focused work
      2. Create collaborative spaces that can be facilitated – teacher/tutor/mentor/geek squad/librarian
      3. Design social interactions with touch-points
      4. Develop program, classroom and presentation spaces to run programs.

    In collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology, we held a workshop on the Library as an Incubator on Oct. 26, 2013. The program explored our unique planning methodology. Our host Charlie Bennett provided examples of how to develop innovation spaces and maker spaces. He will be speaking for the TEDX Telfairstreet and Tinker, Teacher, Maker, Space: Two Co-working Experiments in the Academic Library @ LITA 2013.

    Our workshop took us on a Visual Scan tour of the library’s collaboration spaces.

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