Posts Tagged public library

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.

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Review and Renew to keep your Library Thriving

Our clients seek us out because, as library consultants, we offer a straightforward process geared specifically for libraries. For example, how does one develop a library “from scratch?” What services and space planning concepts should be used? What are the steps in developing the library’s goals, objectives and strategies?

Our assessments can help create the next generation library and/or learning space, and we have helped countless librarians and archivists develop and enhance their services. Sometimes, the library staff needs to understand and measure the print and archive collection(s), examining different storage solutions. Other times, the library needs a library building program (ex. learning commons, reference areas, campus innovation centers, etc.); sometimes the learning organization needs a complete rethink. We do it all.

Our research suggests that a thriving learning organization continually identifies and measures library services to stay current. We use a balanced scorecard approach; our research utilizes ethnographic assessment techniques and idea-generating workshops to help create energy for change. For example, we share prototype ideas and facilitate webinars that explore user behavior. We integrate the latest library information systems: our wealth of technology and hardware knowledge helps our clients shape the learning organizations of the future.

Another area of exploration is the Makerspace; these creative spaces are a  place where the community can create, invent, and learn. Before considering the development of a MakerSpace in your library, archive or museum, consider a library services and operations plan to clarify your needs and vision.

Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces can be used to develop a self assessment and start developing your learning organization. The Library Journal’s July 2015 article on Makerspaces illustrates how communities are adapting to the MakerSpace movement. Libraries are reaching new customers: people interested in knowledge sharing and 3D printing; book printing; creating plastic items; robots; and IT networking technology. For example, the IdeaLAB, Hive @ central, Maker Jawn and The Bubbler are examples cited in this article. Each of these MakerSpaces illustrate the variety of options available to consider in the learning organization.

Are you considering new strategies for your learning organization? Contact Aaron Cohen Associates.

Below is a picture from our work with the Hillsborough County Public Library/John F. Germany Planning Project

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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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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.

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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.

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Making the Library a Destination

As part of our workshops and ongoing research process, we perform ethnographic analysis.  This kind of research is invaluable for developing site-specific strategies because it enables participants to share their views of the interior and exterior of a library. Please take our library outcomes survey on our web site.

During the course of formal (surveys, interviews) and informal (observation) assessment, we look at furnishings, computers, equipment and exterior entrance and flow in/out of the building. Throughout this process we generate quantitative and qualitative data that is used to isolate behavioral patterns that will ultimately enable us to formulate solutions for the library space.

A few years ago, we did a full day workshop at the University of Manchester for CILIP.  It was a wonderful event to share knowledge with 25 British Librarians, as we talked about library space planning and learned about best practices.  The participants were very interested in new ideas for libraries; they could see the complexity of change and needed some answers. It was a great opportunity to tour the library and learn about the library director’s plans to improve the building. It was obvious the library was a great institution; history seeped out of its pores.  However, it needed new tools to manage the complex world of libraries.  It needed a new plan.

The Manchester Library recently reopened after an ambitious 50M renovation.  The original building created a pleasing atmosphere, but was not a great place to work or study. Below is a picture of the entryway after the renovation.

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The issues that were addressed by the Manchester renovation came to mind again when I read about the Boston Public Library recently in the New York Times.  According to “Breaking out of the Library Mold, Boston and Beyond” the Boston Public Library is going through a transformation that is noteworthy.  The entryway will be re-imagined with an open lounge area, new books and casual seating and retail space.  According to Amy Ryan, the library will make physical changes to reflect the evolving nature of libraries.

Leaders need to focus on the library as a destination by developing plans for multiple activities and contexts.  They need to understand the characteristics of the library building and services.  They need to work on simple, complicated and complex challenges.  They need to develop new ideas to accelerate improvements.  Our workshops help open up discussions, set up a framework for improvements, stimulate attractors and encourage dissent and diversity of ideas. Our workshops help participants learn about the library, creating opportunities for new ideas to emerge.

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Libraries are Inspiring Places

Libraries are unique cultural and educational places that offer collaborative learning opportunities.  The library is a set of service concept(s) that provides opportunities for activity, help and engagement.  According to Harvard Business Review “IDEO’s Culture of Helping,”the knowledge worker or users needs a culture where help is embedded.   They need libraries for brainstorming and collaborative / project based work.

According to the Pew Internet – “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities”, 67% percent of respondents would be personally impacted if their library closed. The patrons that use the library know its value in terms of the space.  There are computing, socializing and areas to check out books.

It is a challenge for librarians and educators to show how “collaborative generosity” can be the norm in your community.  The secret is to provide your community with a library that has enough seats for all potential learning activities.  The increase in the amount of space for each new learning activity (reflective, collaborative, social, etc.) will enable opportunities for collaborative support.

At ALA Midwinter (#ala2014mw), librarians and educators discussed how to assess the under-served population.  The dialog created some confusion over whether it was right to study non-user populations as well as user populations.  Libraries need to study their communities strengths first.  Collecting data about how the 29% of users who believe not having a library would make a big impact on their lives will deliver a wealth of data to help build future strategies.

WARM UP EXERCISE: Daniel Dalton in the Buzzfeed community developed a web page that captures some quotes as warm ups for planning and programming. The link includes 28 beautiful quotes about libraries.

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Playfully thinking about Library Programming

Programming Library spaces to improve learning activities can be in different sizes and shapes. According to Aaron Cohen AIA, the library is an incubator and a place for interaction. It is a space that allows for playful activities. Below are images that represents the playfulness of furniture and the types of visualizations during programming we provide to our clients.

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library consultant seating layout

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Crowdfunding for Libraries (8 steps)

As the world gets smaller and more people have access to the internet, we are getting requests to fund local library projects all over the world. These projects are important “peace centers” where young and old can be trained, read a book or meet for a cup of coffee.

The concept of fundraising for libraries isn’t a new topic. Roberta Stevens, past ALA president 2010-2011 from the Library of Congress, helped develop a framework to help librarians do fundraising. In the past year, technology platforms for fundraising started to offer libraries new ways to raise funds. These programs can be done anywhere in the world. However, a US partner is a good way to make all the connections and validate the process. The Leeway Foundation created a web page as a starting point for anyone looking to do crowdfunding for libraries.

On the academic side, movement towards crowdfunding is increasing. For example, in U. of Virginia Teams Up With ‘Crowdfunding’ Site to Finance Research stated, “The University of Virginia is one of the first to start such a fund-raising effort through a partnership with a crowdfunding start-up company. UVa is teaming up with Useed, a company focused on promoting fund raising in higher education by soliciting donations for university research projects or student-proposed entrepreneurial projects.”

According to the Fundraising Toolkit by the American Library Association, there are 8 easy steps to follow:

1. Recruit Help

In small or rural libraries, most of the responsibility for leading this effort will fall on the shoulders of the library director or manager, but he or she need not embark on this alone.

2. Examine your library’s community

Work with your committee to look at your community’s political, economic, social and cultural environment. What are your community’s strengths? Its challenges? Its important issues? What is happening with education, business, jobs, the arts?

3. Tie your library to community issues

If you’ve done a good job evaluating your community, connecting your library with its issues and values should be fairly straightforward. Take the checklist you have created and determine how the library relates to each one.

4. Develop your case

People will give to you because you meet needs, not just because you have needs. What are you raising money for, and why is it important?

5. Identify potential donors

Who is in a position to support your library? Is it local businesses? A civic or fraternal organization? A book club or garden club? Parents? Which individuals are likely in a position to write a check?

6. Make your fundraising visible

Consider planning activities that call attention to your library’s role in the community and its vital services. Events such as book sales, contests, read-a-thons, speaker programs, and others are all great ways to add some spin to your fundraising efforts.

7. Be realistic about the kinds of fundraising your library can succeed at.

Be honest. Set goals that are ambitious, but achievable in the context of your community’s size, its resources, and the environment you have evaluated.

8. Have fun with fundraising!

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Public Library – Top 10 Libraries for Children

Libraries are exciting places for children to grow and learn. They are great attractions for local culture, tutoring and making friends. In the US, there are many public libraries that fit the description as a great place for children to learn. According to Livability – “Top 10 Libraries for Children“, the children’s library is a vital starting point for intellectual, academic and social inspiration for all generations.

While styles and materials may vary in different parts of the world, the children’s library is an important space concern. Is it designed for noise? Is it designed for quiet reading? How large is the story-time room? What types of programming will occur is the children’s library? How close is it to the doorway or entrance?

According to Stephen Abram, there have been many ROI studies in the past. Each tried to outline the hard and soft costs of the public library and compare them to the advantages the library provides to the community. For example, the library provides the community with:

• Public libraries are cost-effective information providers
• Public libraries support the local economy
• Public libraries support the cultural industry sector
• Public libraries support American culture
• Public libraries support a democratic society
• Public libraries support and promote literacy
• Public libraries support children and students
• Public libraries support lifelong learning
• Public libraries help bridge the digital divide

We have been researching public libraries for many years. Along the way, we found a form to help public libraries show their value. The children’s library is a great value in terms of cost savings per family. We believe the children’s library is vital to the growth of the public library.
Below is a one page valuation page. It was developed to help public libraries share their value.

This image was developed to help public libraries show their value

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