Posts Tagged library planning

Vision Lab: Single Purpose Education Buildings are Out

In the education world, libraries are ready to become part of the learning experience. Colleges are trimming the space for open shelving and providing more space for reflective, collaborative and group project-based work. The space and storage requirements are not going away, which requires careful planning and adjustments to the program.

The functions of libraries are clarified at Aaron Cohen Associates, especially at schools where the line of demarcation between social gathering spaces and serious work cause friction. During a recent library planning project, we looked at converting existing book stacks to accommodate interdisciplinary space to enable more scholarly research across all fields. We focused on data visualization and the need to accommodate to different types of learning behaviors.

The Future Library / Vision Lab Concept is visualized in ‘The Contingency of a Pinball Machine‘ – In Tech Trends 21, the pinball is a visual metaphor of the user who is launched through innovation onto the playing board, with the ball representing value for all of scholarly communications, including researchers, libraries, and publishers.

“The flippers that keep the ball in play are Human and AI assisted technologies that support the value chain process. Additional support propelling the ball is provided by institutions, both libraries and other institutional support infrastructures, as well as funding organizations.”

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The Accessible, Sustainable, and Reusable Research Space


A Library is a place to utilize various forms of learning tools including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 3D printing and makerspace / hackable zones. The idea is to enhance digital thinking, and the curricula of the educational system. Modern learning environments are generally designed around behavior i.e. ACA’s five learning modes (collaborative, group, presentation, reflective and meeting point). However, we now see digital thinking as a mode to explore.

Digital thinking is an essential intellectual process in the post-industrial age. No longer is it necessary to travel to specific places to work with colleagues, or to find and then peruse important material. Computerization and the Internet enables us to draw ideas and skills from individuals situated in any time zone, anywhere in the world, or to tap into libraries of databases that have the information we seek. In education, digital thinking enables students, faculty and administrators to connect with colleagues or with one another, wherever they are — or to find the information they need at any time day or night.

Our library service and operations assessments include round table discussions with business partners and target user(s) to develop such environments. We try to understand how to make the service more accessible, sustainable, and usable. We ask questions to understand the researchers priorities. For example:

  • What kinds of services does your research environment provide?
  • How is the collection used to support your research community?
  • Does the library provide a flexible environment?
  • What are the compromises you must make because you don’t have a research space planning strategy?
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    Library Functions in an Accelerated World

    In an age of constant acceleration, Thomas Friedman is a Futurist who sees radical changes in our information landscape. In his book, Thank you for Being Late, he suggests that we need to empower innovation to establish radically disruptive new business models.

    Our research shows that libraries need to be updated faster. They should provide services that are fast, free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. Indeed, library technology needs to move from the 2007 model of “invisible services” to those that are visible and allow for collaboration and sharing. This means that the next generation of librarians will provide access to both physical and digital platforms. Both require information architecture to support modern day users with business analysis, teaching and learning, and lifelong learning pursuits.

    Throughout our 45 year history, our Library Consultant has stressed that planning should be forward-thinking. Today, we are trying to understand how the library can function in an accelerated world. What will this look like? What are the decisions to make that ensure the library will evolve and grow?

    Our group of librarians, IT professionals and architectural planners help our clients examine and redefine a library’s staff, collections and user space. To help clarify these concepts, Aaron Cohen built our consulting firm on the notion that we must prototype (what is a good library?) first and compare our ideas with the local user requirements. Our ability to define collection conditions at other libraries make this exercise worthwhile to our clients. We learn from our past ideas and build new types of library services in response to our rapidly changing world.

    A recent example of this analysis: we reviewed the impact of IBM Watson developer cloud & EEG signaling technology to learn how to extend library services into the data-enhanced AI world. These new types of libraries will help corporations use their databases with APIs to improve marketing, finance and sales. These new types of digital library services will use technology to help businesses understand the data they collect and learn how to use it; they will require both collection development and staff development to make them work. Contact us—we can help!

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    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.

    analytics_-diagram

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    Value of Academic and Research Libraries

    What is the value of the library?

    Learning spaces need to be positioned to provide access, skill development and the right context for learning to grow. Come join us on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at Steelcase NYC to learn how to develop highly integrated learning spaces.

    Click Here

    Modern research libraries perform a number of critical functions: they provide space and tools for learning. The library’s capacity to drive opportunity and success in today’s knowledge-based economy requires proven methods for programming library services and operations. Whether it is change across all facets of the research organization; academic libraries have the potential to greatly impact education and learning. The library’s fundamental people, place and platforms are core to its mission.

    mary-idema-pew-library

    Reasons for Libraries
    1. Libraries offer a buffer between work space and home space
    2. They create social capital through group and collaborative learning
    3. They provide access to research materials
    4. They provide spaces that support all content formats

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    Library Space Planning: The Third Place

    What is the third place? It is a library or community center, learning commons or co-working space. In a community or campus building, the third place is the library. It provides social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). In the library planning world, the third place concept helps the project team search of answers. It helps us develop the library space plan with spaces for students and co-workers – young and old.

    According to Nancy Murrey-Settle (YALSA) “When 3rd Place is Good. Empowering Students in the Library” the high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power. ‘ Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts. ‘ When they walk through that library door, decisions await. ‘ Where to sit, computer or table? ‘ Do they need to work, or socialize a bit?

    We remember Boarders Books and its periodical / coffee bar / newspaper reading areas, than Starbucks with convenient Wi-Fi locations to support mobile work. Now, Staples and Workbar are developing their own ‘third place’, offing co-working membership areas and prescheduled meeting spaces.

    The environment for work in the 21st century is changing, requiring academic and public libraries to think about their space differently. The Staples and Workbar project is an example of a high-end workspaces, conference rooms and private phones rooms that is part of the ‘third place’ transformation of work. The retail spaces are programmed to be between 2,500 o 3,500 sq. ft. and offer collaboration spaces as well as wi-fi, printers and ‘bottomless’ coffee and tea to keep the connectivity and productivity flowing.

    We think of the library as part of a hub and spoke network of learning spaces on campuses or in a community. Co-working spaces link students to project-based learning activities; they are often convenient locations with extended hours to support study activities on campus. The Pubic Library’s efforts to be a ‘third place’ provides co-working space for small business customers, independent professionals, startups and the mobile workforce. Below is an example of an adaptable Library…

    2016-04-20 09.52.562016-04-20 12.17.07

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    Best Libraries in the World

    ACA (www.acohen.com) has spent more than 40 years studying libraries, developing user experiences and library services. We are now seeing a significant shift in space and service planning strategies, from primarily book based institutions to a blend of digital and print services.

    Sometimes its good to get a perspective of other libraries to enhance your building project. Across library world, civic leaders, librarians and educators are helping us design and refine the communities needs.

    Take a tour of some of the best libraries in the world: http://blog.uniplaces.com/en/25-best-university-libraries-in-the-world/

    Below is the next generation library we are developing with ACG in Dubai.

    DL_DayPerspective_20151125

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    The Library as Learning Organization

    Developing the library as a learning organization is a steady trend in both academic and public libraries. Certainly, there is a need for a new leadership approach that will create an adaptable, balanced structure. According to Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline, “Ultimately, leaders intent on building shared visions must be willing to continually share their personal visions.” ACA is working on a number of projects where success is created by the successful: they are making a conscious choice to achieve greater balance with a learning-organization approach.

    The development of such an organization requires staff to focus on building a shared vision.  We work with the staff to gain structured feedback. We might discuss how the library is expected to provide digital services, user space and print collections. We ask questions, such as: is it really the library’s vision to defend manual processing? Like other organizations, the development of a learning organization needs to be well coordinated.

    The learning organization requires continuous investment in manpower, space, coordination and fundraising. It needs to be both adaptable and locally controlled. The focus must be on improving the quality of the user experience, while examining future trends. For example, how do young adults use technology? Pew Research indicates that 98% of “millenials”  use the Internet : Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 . Three fourths (77%) have a smartphone and tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%) Additionally, 79% of Millennials believe that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage.

    Yet, they know that important information is not always available online.

    According to Pew, “62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that. Therefore, the library still has an important role to play in both the digital and print worlds.

    Together, we can build better learning organizations and avoid the “negative spiral” that stems from a lack of direction. Start a planning study to develop a sharing culture in your academic or public library community.

    Library Consultant Predictive Model

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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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    Library Coding Classes / Crowdsourcing Fundraising Ideas

    Transformative learning environments can make a big impact on struggling youth. As technology continues to advance, libraries are now offering coding classes to support the next generation of education. They are creating their own well of knowledge by training the community in new skills. For example, the Hive at Hillsborough Public Libraries provides all the tools to develop new ideas. Louisville’s library system (LFPL) offers coding courses to community members, supporting the next wave of knowledge workers. The HPLC and LFPL are both examples of libraries that are responding to an industry that is chronically in need of young and energetic workers, i.e. software and hardware developers. The libraries are making a difference with both space, services and collections; something that is unique to all libraries.

    According to Coding ‘Boot Camp’ Opens High-Tech Doors, free software-building classes can put poor youth on a potentially lucrative career path. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that hiring of software developers will grow at a rate twice as fast as the average for all occupations through 2022. Keeping this in mind, libraries need to be investing in coding classes, staff and hackable spaces. They need to connect with companies like Jeff Macco’s Seedpaths; delivering software development education to entry-level and advanced-level students.

    Libraries that support the community with coding/software development and crowd-sourcing skills can make a real difference in the world. What if libraries could train their own software developers to help them build public funding campaigns? As the Guardian reported in”Crowdfunding saved Timbuktu’s manuscripts. What’s next?,” Thomas Gruner and T160K developed a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo called Timbuktu Libraries in Exile. In 2014 it raised $67,000, illustrating that crowdfunding is a viable way to raise money for libraries: ancient and modern, large and small.

    Even though Timbuktu’s library had no funding, hackers from around the world rallied to support the wealth of knowledge it holds. This can be the same for any library. It starts by building new spaces that will enhance the technology capabilities in your community and connecting them with the world.

    library user

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