• Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    Which Vision of the Future will best describe your library?

    There are good reasons to do a library plan at the end of the year (Join us Dec 13, 2019 @ Steelcase). It is a good time to get plans started and prepare for the future. The key performance indicators for any library service and/or library staffing project should be defined before the boss asks how much money do you need next year. Our approach is straightforward and easy to understand – Join Us & Get Ahead of the Curve.

    We developed our library planning workshop at Steelcase Worklife almost 20 years ago. Each year, we would hold discussions about the future of the library and participants share stories about their recent projects and the things they wanted to do.

    Over the years, the workshop addressed the need for Quiet and Collaborative, Makerspaces and Flexible Environments. We discussed the information commons, learning commons and the need for books in the library. We shared examples about the changes we witnessed in the library environment – new computer workstations, self check out technology, RFID, and tablets, Ipads and the Andriod revolution in Smartphones. If things were changing, we were discussing it at our Annual Library Planning Workshop.

    Today the lack of planning can distort how the user experience is delivered and whether your library is focusing on the right things. Join Us on December 13, 2019 at Steelcase Worklife – share your vision of the library of the future…

    Share your ideas how the library can be a dynamic learning space, community and cultural space.

  • Library Planning Research

    Know Your Library’s Value—and Make Sure the University Does, Too


    To remain a vital partner in a University’s mission, academic libraries need to communicate their value. According to ACRL’s academic library impact report,” academic libraries need to strategically evolve to support student learning and success; they must effectively communicate the library’s value. This communication is a vital step when competing for resources within funding and governance structures both in and outside the academic institution.”

    Based on findings from the report, ACRL members identified six priority areas where academic librarians can build a case for the library:

    1. Communicate the library’s contributions.
      2. Match library assessment to institution’s mission.
      3. Include library data in institutional data collection.
      4. Quantify the library’s impact on student success.
      5. Enhance teaching and learning.
      6. Collaborate with educational stakeholders.

    For example, does your President or Provost recognize that the library can provide a common point for collaboration between students and faculty? Or that libraries can have an impact on student retention? According to Megan Oakleaf for the Association of College and Research Libraries – Value of Academic Library Report(ACRL), “Librarians in universities, colleges, and community colleges can establish, assess, and link academic library outcomes to institutional outcomes regarding student enrollment, retention and graduation rates, student success, student achievement, student learning, student engagement, faculty research productivity, faculty teaching, service, and overarching institutional quality.” Her report emphasizes  that libraries are learning communities.They can support a return on investment campaign (i.e. for each $1 spent on an academic library you get a specific benefit in return).

    Libraries without a library master plan or library facility analysis don’t know how to communicate their value and need help crafting a plan. They need to study how to utilize the spaces and increase support for multiple stakeholders: librarians, faculty, administration and students. Academic libraries need to outline the ways that a new design will provide a better return on investment.

    A master plan is an important catalyst for change. Left without a plan, environments will not grow organically or enhance student success effectively. The master planning process facilitates improvements to libraries, buildings and systems. It provides a narrative and program that can be used to attain optimal service and capital expenditures.

    How We Can Help

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD specializes in academic library assessments. We ask the challenging questions and show clients how to communicate the value of the academic library. We help develop new strategic/organizational programs, but our real strength lies in an understanding that the library is truly “for the people.” As an organization of learning spaces with staff and resources nearby, the library impacts the learning outcomes on campus.

    To better understand what makes the academic library valuable, we developed a framework to analyze the library planning variables. First, ask: what matters? What is really important to the stakeholders? In effect, this is a simple question that can be complex to answer. To be sure, there will always be librarians who make sure the book still has a place in the library, and others that make sure that it is a dynamic space. We have worked with all types of librarians on academic master planning projects, and their integrity and passion for learning translates into good library programming, which increases value.

    We can help communicate ways to improve and thus generate a good return on investment for your academic library. ACA’s success is the result of our program and planning methodology, developed over several decades. It is based on 47 years of management studies and program models that have been tuned to the needs of the 21st century library.

    For over a decade, Alex Cohen, MLS has led efforts to build simple program reports with recommendations. Based on ACA’s five learning modes (social, presentation, collaborative, reflective, touchpoint), he provides clients with clear, relevant recommendations that best serve students, faculty and staff. It can be used as a stand-alone program or as part of a larger study to help decision making, improving the return on investment for library space and services in the 21st century.




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

    The Economic Value of Library Systems

    An economic study developed by the Free Library of Philadelphia in 2010 is a good starting point for anyone who wants to advocate for their library. The Free Library of Philadelphia summarized four areas where the library makes an impact on its community.

    1. Workforce Development – $6M

    – $2.2 million in career development book-reading & lending
    – $2.1 million in job-finding online activities, including workforce database usage and online job searching/prep
    – $1.7 million job-readiness and workforce-related programming

    The study estimates that 979 Philadelphians found jobs directly as a result of the resources provided by the Library in FY10.

    979 entry-level jobs translates into $30.4 million in earned income in one year (at an average entry-level salary for Philadelphia), generating $1.2 million annually in wage tax revenue for the city

    2. Business Development – $3.8M

    8% of survey respondents report that they could not have started, grown or improved their business without the Free Library, resulting in an estimated 8,630 businesses that benefited from Free Library business development services.

    3. Value to Homes and Neighborhoods. Homes within ¼ mile of a Library are worth, on average, $9,630 more than homes more than ¼ mile from a Library.

    4. Literacy – $21.8M

    – $18.4 million in literacy-related reading & lending
    – $2.6 million in literacy related programming
    – $818,000 in literacy-related online activities

    10% of survey respondents report “ I couldnt have learned to read without the library,” meaning an estimated
    10,788 people attribute their ability to read to the Free Library.

    13% of survey respondents report they taught someone else to read and could not have done it without the Free Library, meaning 14,024 people attribute their being able to teach someone to read to the Library.

    LINK to the STUDY

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    The economic impact of libraries

    Our team is always trying to measure the economic impact of library services. It is notoriously difficult once you get beyond broad benefits and try to pin down the actual numbers.

    A new research report from Australia on the socio-economic impact of libraries, Dollars, Sense and Public Libraries, has been published, commissioned by the library network for the state of Victoria.

    It uses an economic model that gets as close as anyone can to demonstrating the real economic value of public libraries. Its findings will be of interest to public libraries in the USA, UK and beyond. Please use this quantifiable economic data to back up fund raising strategies. Outlining the value of library services is very important to our profession and society.

  • Library Planning Research

    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.”


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

    The value of public libraries

    The value of public library service is often overlooked by the community. During the development of a capital campaign to improve the library building, it is very important to communicate the value of the library services.

    One way to generate knowledge about library services and their cost advantages is to use a calculator. The Chelmsford Library developed one online for you to use. Go to: Library Use Value Calculator

    You may use this calculator for survey’s and open discussions with the public. We use this information to learn more about the unique needs of the local culture and the value of the “library as place.” You may use the calculator above to communicate your value and to build an appreciation for all of the services the library provides to your community.