Posts Tagged library space

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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Learning Circle – Library as an Incubator for Online Learning

The library is no place to dream small. It is an incubator that when heated at the right tempature evolves into a place for education in the 21st century. The “Library as place” where a new concept for online learning is emerging; the barriers to education are being lowered. The library is a universal place that lets learning grow.

Libraries exist not just to lend books but to guarantee their continuous availability of access to information. In “Digital Education“- MIT technology Review January/February 2013 stated – “The highest ambition of any society is to educate its citizens.” Indeed, a simple group circle or shape speeds up our ability to perceive the learning space, and without realizing it, we are more productive.

In NYTimes Article “Why We Love Beautiful Things,” German Researchers’ found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. However, we know people see things differently. To get it right, Professor Sanjay Sarma at MIT will serve as a convener and synthesizer to develop and integrate elements of online education into traditional MIT courses. It will be his job to create shades of green for students to get the most out of their education.

For example, the library of the future is an incubator: When you enter a flexible learning place—Enter—See—Access Services–Hi ceiling—Visibility–Stand-up-table–Tools—Screens—Screens on the edges.

The Consultation Bar is in the rear—Tutoring—Workshops—Mentoring–Peer Learning—-Touch points—One too one—-a place for flexible learning—Web browser—To view video—Questions to be

The model is a series of circles—each circle is a learning circle a place flexible learning—–start programming.

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General Assembly – Learning Center and Library Concept for Start ups

The library is a dynamic space for start-ups as well as individuals. It is a space that combines the physical learning experience with the virtual tools. It is a place that has formal teaching and training programs as well as collaborative work-spaces for small groups to gather and exchange ideas.

General Assembly is a good example of how the physical and virtual spaces are being combined to create knowledge. The description of services reflect the types of work we are doing now and will be doing in the future.

The development of virtual services is not a replacement for the types of spaces, tools and opportunities for exchange that is required for profitable work. Yes, we are more efficient with our virtual tools, but we still need spaces. In the past, we would say that libraries provide the 3rd space – not home or work. However, the world is blurring and the difference between home and work is not so clearly defined.

Often, people need spaces that allow them to be motivated by the other people or they need to be in a setting to be more productive. For example, if I were at home, I would get distracted and watch TV instead of working on my business plan.

In “We must protect and reinvent our local libraries” by Jeanette Winterson, she makes an impassioned argument for why the library is invaluable. After all, John Maynard Keynes believed in culture – why wouldn’t it help others become great?

For anyone working to develop a better community and enhance their education and culture – Jeanette’s quote of Andrew Carnegie is worth reflecting on –

“Man does not live by bread alone. I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.”

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academic library space get ready – apple is getting into e-textbooks – rise of the new groupthink

The academic textbook market has been resisting the change from print to digital for a long time. Apple has been moving toward a model for textbooks that may change the playing field. It confirmed a e-textbook publishing event that could start to get traction now that there is a digital publishing model for music and books.

From a librarians perspective, Apple’s textbooks business venture will further enhance the library as a collaborative and individual space. Students of the future will use their e-reader textbook along with a variety of traditional formats for learning. The e-textbook will free up space for storage, but it will also enable new kinds of sharing not seen today, but on the horizon for tomorrow.

In “the Rise of the New Groupthink,” Susan Kane explores the need for solitude in the creative process. From a librarians perspective, the library will not vanish once we have e-textbooks. No, “concentrating the mind on the tasks in hand, and preventing the dissipation of energy on unrelated tasks” is required regardless of the tools you use. The library has a strong role to play for anyone who needs to expand their knowledge and create a world that is honest, strong and supportive.

quiet space for learning

quiet space for learning

quiet space in the library

quiet space in the library

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the language of library space

A recent article from Inside Higher Education focuses on the need to balance quiet and active spaces in the library. Project Information Literacy study found that students minimize technology use and try to unplug from their overly distracting social networks when working on projects or studying for exams.

During our library planning studies, we have found that all libraries need environments that allow for social, group and individual study. The library plan should include:

  • active space – information commons, learning commons, group collaboration, etc.
  • quiet space – contemplative space for study.
  • According to “The Future of the Academic Library Symposium: Bridging the Gap, Libraries – “need to be in a state of perpetual beta to effect change.” We believe libraries need to experiment with both quiet and active space.

    The University of North Carolina started a Journal of Learning Spaces that is a good place to start an analysis of library space needs. We recommend the journal as a starting point for discussion.

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    program space ideas

    library program environment

    library program environment


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    Retail Furniture Trends

    At Aaron Cohen Associates, Retail Shelving / Library Furniture Ideas are researched to develop a plan for the library’s space. Some of our clients have used retail shelving concepts to make the environment more accessible.

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    Germaine Greer – her love for the “library as place”

    The value of a library is an important part of the building process. Greer states in her 06.09.10 Arts Comment in the Guardian Newspaper that we have to value library spaces. She proposes – “think of libraries as a cluster of services rather than as buildings; as such they are some of the most beautiful built spaces on earth.”

    Germaine Greer points out that younger people are more comfortable with the library. They don’t have expectations for thousands of books. They just want a space that is modern with power and wireless connectivity.

    The “library as place” concept includes the idea of the library as an Oasis. We support the notion that the library is the best place for literacy classes, language courses and computer literacy classes. We have to continue to rethink the “library as place.” Greer explains that “as the era of the book draws to a close, we must keep our libraries and their contents together as cultural entities in themselves…the core job of a local library is to acquire and conserve letters, diaries, books (especially books with marginalia by local celebrities), plans, minutes, parish records, maps, local newspaper and pamphlets, posers and photographs. In an overcrowded, muzak-infested, video-saturated world, a reading room is an oasis, to which we may all repair, even if it is only to read a newspaper.”


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    The Library and Smartphones

    In 2010, ACA did a planning workshop for Computers in Libraries. During the workshop, the group discussed the use of mobile technology and its impact on library space. What will the library of the future look like? A recent study by the PEW FOUNDATION starts to shine the light on new technology…

    According to the Pew Foundation, 32 percent of Americans had accessed the web using a mobile device by April 2009 compared to only 24 percent in December 2007, and 58 percent of 18-29 year olds have used the web on a mobile device. Worldwide demand for smartphones increased 30 percent last year and continues to grow.

    In “Universities and Libraries Move to the Mobile Web, Aldrich, Alan, Educause Quarterly, Vol. 33. #2, 2010,” states that University Websites and Library sites need to integrate mobile requirements and functionality. As library consultants, planners and designers we are focused on another functional aspect of Smart phones – what kinds of learning spaces do students need to support mobile technology. We are researching different educational and public information settings to understand mobile computing needs. As a result, we are developing new types of programmatic requirements for library spaces i.e. flexible furnishings, smart spaces and materials, stackable chairs and tables. We are looking for ways to improve the learning space.

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    Library as Place – Disney is moving toward a better retail place.

    Disney’s Retail Plan is a Theme Park in its Stores, is another example of retailers recognizing the need to create a place. They hired Steve Job’s retailing team at Apple to help them develop interactive learning spaces.

    The ‘Library as Place’ is an important aspect of the new service/space paradigm. For example, “the world does not need another place to sell Disney merchandise – this only works if it’s an experience,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide.” In relation to Library Space Planning, people want space to interact with the library material and they need additional types of working environments to do it in.

    The ‘Library as Place’ is an important factor in the way we interact with information. For example, by using RFID librarians can equip packages to respond when the customer passes the interactive display. In the future Disney Stores, “Computer chips embedded in packaging will activate hidden features. Walk by a “magic mirror” while holding a Princess tiara, for instance, and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.” – Barnes, Brooks, “Disney’s Retail Plan Is a Theme Park in Its Stores,” NYTimes, Oct. 13, 2009.


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