Posts Tagged public library planning

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 Plausibility of a Virtual Library Concept

Mobile devices once represented a “new frontier” in library service, offering more access and connectivity than ever before. Today, Virtual Reality (VR) applications represent the next wave in libraries. Motion-controlled technology will enable us to step into another world, no longer tethered only to the physical library space. Users will no longer be spectators but participants in the virtual library.

This new technology offers exciting opportunities for knowledge management applications. For example, Kevin He, founder of Midas Touch, is developing physics-based animation games that incorporate real-world movements with the screen view. In the future, the availability of headsets will make it possible for library users to experience different worlds.

VR technology growth is an indicator that things are changing in the research landscape: academic librarians and/or provosts looking to enhance research experiences need to pay attention this topic. Investment in a VR space will enable institutions to offer more value to students; these spaces and technology programs can further enhance student success. For example, a VR program might provide an enhanced experience such as being at the Grand Canyon, adding a new way for students to use information.
Library planning for VR

Planning these spaces will require new program ideas with a flexible library design. This isn’t about individual learning; virtual reality library will be a group space. Additionally, we will need programs and designs that offer safeguards for the distracted. Incorporating this new technology will require a library program that will help drive collaboration, knowledge and innovation in order to meet the needs of tomorrow.

The five P’s–purpose, place, people, programs, and partnership–are a starting point for the library staff and knowledge management business teams. They will need to research how to blend library services in both physical and virtual worlds. They will need to offer cultural and educational experiences in both physical and virtual learning environments. VR technology has the potential to drive innovation, enabling research to happen all in one room or space. ACA can help libraries determine the hardware, software and spatial requirements for the virtual reality library.

Below is a picture of Project Morpheus for PS4

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Libraries – Measuring the Future

At a functional level, the basic concept of library is not antiquated. The library space remains vital and important in the context of a learning model. We have a lot to learn about the use of the library and the behavior of the patrons. It is time to use simple technology to measure the library building; use this information to improve services.

The language of library spaces and collections is traditionally tied to a paper, emphasizing physical qualities over functional characteristics. The challenge is to articulate the essential characteristics of the library space in terms that make sense for today’s user. We are developing library programs based on new data, measuring the learning environment in innovative ways.

ACA has the capabilities to provide Google-Analytics-style dashboards for our library projects. We can help you analyze library building: movement of patons, number of visits, what patrons browsed, what parts of the library were busy during which parts of the day, and more.

If you are a librarian that is on a limited budget, check out “Measure the Future” – they are developing crowd sourcing bots to support libraries that want to asses their space. They are creating simple and inexpensive sensors that can collect data about building usage that is now invisible. The pilot programs can be replicated at your library with students from the local scout club.

Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD is striving to provide strategic design solutions. We help libraries and librarians make strategic decisions that create more efficient and effective experiences for their patrons. Contact ACA if you have a library service planning or space assessment project

5 Modes of Learning

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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…

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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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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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Rethinking your library space? Start with a Plan

The term “library collection” is always subject to interpretation; today, it can mean many different things. A library with no books? It’s not impossible anymore. Even within a traditional library, learning spaces and computer labs will emerge, offering new ways to collaborate, learn and use a library’s resources. Are you thinking of designing a space like this, or somehow rethinking your current space? Your fellow librarians, educators and public leaders believe the library can offer more than just books, but it can be hard to know where to begin.

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How can you develop your library to better serve today’s students and patrons? An essential first step is to develop a master plan or library building program. This is a document that outlines the goals, objectives and strategies for the future library. It should also outline the service and space needs of the library community. The master plan can be broken into phases, with a schedule that offers milestones for the library to follow.

The easiest way to get your library plan started is to create a planning committee: This is a small group of dedicated people that can focus on defining library services and space needs. It is also a marketing opportunity; you can allow your partners to get involved and hold open meetings to gain some momentum for change. Focusing on collaboration and getting to know the community served will help you reclaim the strategic “high ground,” so you can move forward with an organized approach and make this a successful year for your library.

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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

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    Understanding the Library Customer

    Libraries have a special relationship with their buildings. They offer inspiring spaces to read and learn; quiet areas for contemplation and reflection. They offer breakthrough services such as innovation labs, iLabs and learning commons (ex. research inspiring library spaces). So, how do we get more from our library buildings? How do we create better communication plans that translate into new investments?

    According to Innovative library services “in the wild”, only 30% of the population know about their local public library. More importantly, another 20% don’t know very much about the value of the library at all. We note that the library’s fortunes are built on communicating and understanding their customer.

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    When every library patron is viewed as a new customer, big opportunities are possible. During our library planning workshop at Steelcase Worklife in NYC, the group got a chance to dream about the future and visualize real solutions. They talked about the library’s need to transform and improve access. They discussed the need to create a marketing plan to communicate new types of library services.

    The workshop provided a foundation for discussion about the library of the future and the needs of the library customer. Let us know what kind of relationship your library has with the public and building space through our survey for academic and public libraries.

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    Libraries Make Cities Stronger

    Public Library buildings are local destinations that act as catalysts for urban development.  They create opportunities to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods, augmenting both the visual and social value of main streets, markets and malls.  With economic development in mind, we engage with private developers (of malls, commercial corridors, mixed-use developments); because libraries can provide long term improvements to the tenancy, in turn complementing neighborhood retail.  Public libraries fit in a wide mix of public and private sector building projects; they make an impact on economic growth.

    The Demand Institute: tale of 2000 cities developed a data set of economic indicators.  The web site allows the user to compare their community with other communities, offering a statistical database relating geographic location and home ownership.  We believe it reflects the kind of data that will help communities learn about their economic well-being and help build libraries to support healthy learning environments.

    The web site started a discussion in the ACA Library Planning Studio.  We discussed the idea of the library as an incubator for economic development.  Does the Demand Institute give us a working model to help understand what gives value to a community?

    Healthy communities can lower the barrier to market entry for small business by rethinking public library space.  The computers and Wi-Fi, meeting spaces and cafes provide natural environments for business in the 21st century.  The organic quality of cafes acting as business environments was truly exemplified last summer when we visited Milan.  When we were touring the Doma, we were told that the Starbucks’s model was made in Milan Italy.  It seems like coffee in the morning and in the afternoon are good times to do business.

    According to the Howard Schultz, Coffee Bar Enthusiast, “In 1983, while on a buying trip in Milan, Italy, Schultz had an epiphany at one of the many coffee bars. He was struck by the connection people had to coffee, and to the coffee bars which served as a meeting place for people in the community and wanted to replicate the coffee bar at Starbucks stores.”

    We believe the public library has evolved to incorporate the Starbuck’s model of a meeting place.   Indeed, libraries make cities stronger because they are stable, strong and resilient.  They support local and international economies; spaces where communities of practice thrive.

    Below is a photo of the National Library of Singapore – Esplanade Library with Cafe.

    Library-at-Esplanade

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