• Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    Learning Pods: Library User Needs

    Value the Present.
    After hundreds of years of delivering physical educational, we are now increasingly transforming education into online collaboration environments. The public library as well as educational institutions still provide story time and reference, but it is not so simple. We need to be aware that individual learners need services based on collaboration. Not having a plan for the individual learner can lead to a decrease in student success. OK. Let’s parse that – creating a library plan for the individual learner ensures a stronger educational response and improves outcomes for students.

    Bring Your Whole Self, Not Just the Best Plan
    Like many others caught in our current circumstances. You must have high standards for your learning engagement platform and be ready for extra scrutiny. You can shine by putting the spotlight on safe individual learning and a magnifying glass on adaptive strategies to encourage library use. These can be both physical and online services.

    According to Mitchel Resnick (MIT media Lab) and Brian Silverman (Playful Invention Company), the following principles for constructing a learning kit are:

    • Low Floor and Wide Walls
    • Make Powerful Ideas Salient – Not Forced
    • Support Many Paths, Many Styles
    • Make it as Simple as Possible – and Maybe Even Simpler
    • Choose Black Boxes Carefully
    • A Little Bit of Programming Goes a Long Way
    • Give People What They Want – Not What They Ask For
    • Invent Things That You Would Want to Use Yourself
    • Iterate, Iterate – then Iterate Again

    They studied gaming to support learning and making things. (Reflections on Designing Learning Kits)

    Learning Pods & Masks
    Having a strategy for your library user is a start. In the hybrid world, we need to understand the risks in your physical environment and provide strategies to support learning activities. We need to examine the potential needs and build solutions to support learning behavior, interactions and interactivity.

    Given that online education is often not suited to support the individual learner here are some guidelines that can be used to support your library planning.

    1. Create an Online or Physical Library Environment that encourages safe access (low floor)
    2. Create an Online or Physical Library Environment that encourages expert users to create their own research (high ceiling)
    3. Create an Online or Physical Library Environment with Wide Walls – i.e. provide cultural exchanges that enhance personal experiences
    4. Create Open Windows to facilitate the sharing of collections, partnerships, social media programs and communications


    Create an effective and coherent strategy for organizing, analyzing and deploying library activities for individual learners. CONTACT AARON COHEN ASSOCIATES

    learning with covid

  • Library Planning Research

    Communities of Practice Support Online Learning

    The greatest misconception about instructional technology is the idea that online learning or remote learning is a finite game. It is an infinite game, which we call Lifelong Learning. Because education is an infinite game, we must plan and develop a more sustainable system of education. The goal is not to “win” but to keep the will to learn strong.

    To succeed, online learning technology must be organized to create, improve, and utilize instructional programs that can take advantage of existing online resources and knowledge. For many schools, these efforts require a focus and level of expenditure that were not part of the strategic plan.

    The development of communities of practice (the Trusting Team) is a model we have developed to support many organizations over the last 50 years. To see what a Trusting Team might look like, let’s first examine a hybrid learning model that will be employed to support education.

      Hybrid Learning

    • Online Learning
    • Limited Classroom Meetings
    • Online Research (potential to request all formats from library)

    The use of hybrid education is possible because we can record and analyze student responses. We can share instructional packets and host collaborative computer-managed class sessions. We can enhance the remote learning experience by providing students and faculty with a trusted team. This could include a library staff, instructional support, faculty and student.

    Looking for a Demonstration Project

    Done right, the creation of an institutional online infrastructure requires a collaborative culture: Colleges and Universities need to erase the invisible line between the library and the school. For example, we are looking for an educational partner to learn more about active learning scenarios. Odigia is a software company that is ready to assist the education community. They can provide the flexibility to quickly shift between virtual, hybrid/blended, and face-to-face courses.


    Trusting Teams

    A few years ago, we developed a program for a library that had no traditional office. We were challenged by the idea that the library could be virtual and the staff could be located anywhere in the world.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD developed a concept called Trusting Teams. It allows the people on online teams to do their best work, providing them with a team of librarians to help. We sold the management of the corporation on the idea that the creation of a library community of practice would enhance the online infrastructure. Information technology can indeed be collaborative.

    The relationship between learning and environment should not be discounted. You can improve teaching and learning by providing both online resources and faculty assistance. The learner has an amazing capacity for adaptation; provide a Trusting Team and build better learning outcomes. This requires the academic services to have a long term plan.

    menu for library outreach

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD can build the next generation digital library plan to support online education. Institutions can use our framework to improve student success. We have partners that can help your community. Together we can provide the flexibility to realign services from physical to a hybrid/blended library.

  • Library Planning Research

    Programming Study Spaces in a Pandemic

    During this pandemic, libraries and schools must analyze their environments to ensure safety. Research and expert opinion indicate that there are strategies to minimize the risk of microorganisms: ventilation and filtration can reduce their airborne concentration.

    We have had a lot of discussions about air pressure in the library. How is it maintained? How can we improve controls that support healthy airflow? For example, Tom Wilson of Reid Wilson Architects (RWA), stated that supply at the window combined with a return air opposite to the window is a good strategy. Their affiliate firm, ADG, is also analyzing a system with four air returns that can provide a children’s learning space for 15 students in a separate environmental zone.

    There are a variety of options to provide a library or learning space in a pandemic world. Each option should minimize the risk to the students and faculty. When choosing to open your library, you’ll have multiple service options. You can offer touchless service and curb pickup, and start to create safe study spaces. These spaces will need to be configured to suit your user needs.

    Below is list of current guidelines for reopening:

    Click Here

    Visit our Web Site

    Here are a few more ideas to consider:

    Study Areas/Space Programming: Students will need separate study rooms or an area to work. You can reprogram your library to have interior walls and more study rooms. You can use room dividers, installed to customize your library to fit your school, college or university needs.

    Electrical Systems: Study cubicle panels can come pre-wired to ensure easy installation of electrical accessories like wall-switches and outlets. You can also use a Steelcase product called the Thread. It is a flat electrical system that can be deployed easily.

    Study Space Program What size should the study space be? Typically, the size of your safe space library can be between 100 and 200 sq. ft. per unit. The ceiling height can range from 7’ to 14’ high.

    MERV Indoor Filters: There are filters that can reduce the spread of the virus. Take a look at the MERV scale – we recommend MERV 13-16 for library contamination control. There are list of HEPA to ULPA filters, you will need to analyze an entire range of air filtering and HVAC functionality to reduce the spread of the virus.

    Lights: Your safe study space can be built to optimize the light coming in from existing windows. There are a lot of options to consider.

    Ceiling grid systems: You can build prefab wall systems to accommodate the size and height of your library. A strong aluminum ceiling grid can be integrated into the plan to ensure that your safe study space ceiling doesn’t sag or fall over time.

    Pass-through Spaces: You will need to allow patrons to pass safely in and out of the library. However, this is where studies have shown the virus can be the most contagious. Analyzing your entranceway and flow will help mitigate the risks. You need to make sure air is flowing and/or being cleaned. Encouraging flow around the entrance and reducing the amount of people congregating around services is important.

    Provide Scrub Area: It is important to provide additional washing areas in the library. Installing a washing area complete with a sink, soap dispenser and hand dryers can be expensive. However, it is the best strategy to ensure you continue to provide a safe and clean library. Most libraries already provide hand sanitizer at all touch points – service desk, collection areas, entrance and bathrooms.

    click here to learn more about us

    Door Options: Whatever your study space needs are, or wherever the door opens to, you will have options: a standard door, a strip door, a sliding door, fabric curtain or an automatic door. Analyze how you can customize your library for your user needs.

    Security and Control Panels: It’s important to ensure that your library stays clean and that the library users don’t contaminate each other. One of the best ways to do this is to install control panels that only trained employees have access to. This way, all of your furniture, equipment, and the integrity of your study spaces are protected. These security measures can range from managing the door locks to electronic key-pad systems, to accommodate all security needs.

    Talk-through and intercom systems: Also available are ways to provide easy communication through the library’s safe study spaces, without entering and exiting the study areas. Libraries should reconsider their communication systems to mitigate the risks.


  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    A Closer Look at Collections in the Age of Covid

    As libraries begin to reopen, they look to studies such as those from REALM (Reopening Archives, Libraries and Museums) for guidance. It notes that you need to be careful with circulating collections and update service plans to ensure a safe working environment. The findings show that after two days of quarantine most paper based collections are safe.

    Battelle conducted a natural attenuation study to provide information on how long some commonly handled materials would need to be quarantined prior to being returned to being put back into use. According to their web site, “testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity condition.

    Results show that after two days of quarantine in a stacked configuration, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the archival folders. After four days of quarantine in their stacked configuration, the virus was not detectable on the braille
    pages, glossy book pages, and board book. The magazine pages showed a trace amount of virus at four days.

    According to the REALM evaluation,standard office temperature (68°F to 75°F) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent) may provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these materials after two days of quarantine for archival folders and four days of quarantine for the book pages.

    Click Here to Download the Test Results

    This study is just one example of the many resources to consider when approaching reopening. As always, the safety of staff and patrons must be the first priority. We can help you determine the best space and service model for your library.


    safe library plans

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

    In a Pandemic, Buildings Need to Breathe

    As buildings adapt to remain safe during the pandemic, airflow is a key consideration. For example, hospitals are building negative pressure rooms to increase safety. Other spaces—libraries schools, and universities—might be able to learn from healthcare planning to enhance safety.

    According to Vincent Ricevuto (@vricevuto), quoted in Design and Construction Magazine May/June 2020, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has been considering guidelines for creating negative pressurization in temporary healthcare structures and updating cleaning protocols. Their specifications of mechanical ventilation system, location, layout, interior finishing, and AIIR facilities are located on their web site. We think this information is critical to design concepts. For example, exhaust air (EA) and supply air (SA) locations need to be studied to reduce risks. The location of functional library services—such as a study area or circulation desk—requires new guidance.

    The risk of virus dispersal at a library, school or university is influenced by changes in movement and direction of airflow. This change in airflow requires a library building program to match these requirements. We need to make sure that the library or learning center takes advantage of its space and efficiently uses its building.

    Open-Air Access: Let Buildings Breathe

    We have been programming library space for decades. At Central Oklahoma University, Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD introduced the outdoor Internet Cybergarden in the early 2000s. Although the project focused on the indoor space, we considered the Oklahoma weather (using proper wind and shade) to develop an inexpensive outdoor expansion.

    More recently, we programmed the new Boynton Beach Public Library to be “breathable.” We located Children’s services on the ground floor, next to the park. It included space in the park next to city hall that children could use. We recommended creating an open-air zone to pick up a book or meet a friend.

    These two examples illustrate the need for creative programming. Naturally ventilated buildings can go beyond opening windows. We need to re-engineer our buildings to achieve ventilation strategies that reduce the risk from infectious aerosols. We need to reprogram our libraries to maximize safety in this time. CONTACT US TO START A LIBRARY PROGRAMMING STUDY

    Recommendation: Think about the Behavioral Bubble when you start planning for the future. It is a strategy we have used over and over to break down the service planning challenges.


    Strategies to Start Thinking About a Safe Future


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

    Trust: A Vital Part of Teamwork

    According to The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, “If you want to follow a health regime, we may choose to follow some of the practices but not all of them.” For example, one can exercise, but have a bad diet. Libraries are also struggling with this type of challenge as they try to provide services and support the community. They can create new plans for the library space, but they will not be able to fix all the problems. An “infinite” strategy is required.

    Simon Sinek has developed a new website with online courses that can help librarians, library staff and leadership. It shows ways to outline strategies for trusted teams, and begin to resonate with your users. Libraries are a natural source of such teams: book clubs are one example. A library that supports this service is going to have a dedicated reading community.

    Blended Learning Takes Center Stage

    Library users are interested in both online resources and in-person collaboration. A few years ago, we began to focus on blended learning in libraries: this combination of in-person and digital resources. The more classes that were launched online, the more digital collaboration required. We noted that librarians, teachers, academic support staff and students create “trusted teams,” and work effectively. We considered this team concept as we developed our library programs. Although they defined the space required, they also outlined a new service paradigm.

    The Importance of Trust

    A true team doesn’t just work together: they trust each other. Libraries are built on this idea: we share collections, buildings and research. We are a community of users who value education and culture.

    Libraries that shows superior performance depends not only upon the type of user, but their activities – are they building trust? We provide physical and virtual strategies for growth, applying service models to make sure you are building on your strengths. CONTACT US

    Libraries have to build on trust in times of crisis. In complex times, design thinking will enable your library to perform better than your individual goals or internal team can perform. Extending your communities of practice and building a strategy team will help you develop a safe space and trusted teams. Below is a diagram that illustrates a digital strategy work example.Turst:


    Recommended Video: Trust – Infinite game by Simon Sinek
    “When we work on a Trusting Team we feel safe to express vulnerability.

  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Libraries: Key Partners in Virtual Learning

    Academic librarians can play a key role  in the adjustment to online learning: they can assist faculty with transferring courses to online (or hybrid) format, and provide collaboration opportunities for students. Librarians should create a library resource strategy to help maintain consistent, engaging learning in lieu of in-person classes.

    Please take our survey on Virtual Learning and share with colleagues. LINK TO VIRTUAL LEARNING SURVEY

    Our firm has developed tools to help libraries adjust to a higher reliance on digital resources. Our flexible design thinking strategy  helps our clients decide what changes they should make. We can build a plan for you, providing a platform that builds on your strengths. Contact Library Consulting Services

    As we adjust to an online focus,  collection development should include a digital asset management plan. For example, your collection should include resources that are free and available without copyright requirements. During a recent project, we found that a University’s special collections were often in digital formats.

    Below is a link to original anatomy diagrams that can be used as primary research materials (sample image below):Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la medecine operatoire, par le docteur Bourgery. Avec planches lithographiées d’après nature par N.H. Jacob. Students could use this free resource if it was integrated into their scholarly workspace.

    ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education
    If you need a structured outreach process, visit the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. We are researching this subject to uncover the ways online learning will be applied to higher education. We are very interested in your perspective!

    Please share our survey on Virtual Learning with colleagues. LINK TO VIRTUAL LEARNING SURVEY

    We can help you develop a digital library strategy:  CONTACT US

    Below is a link to Tipasa. Join the community and help develop next generation software. Our integration plans can improve library operations. We showcase new technology to encourage innovation in library operations. We can help you develop a digital library strategy:  CONTACT US

    library consulting
  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    Technology Needs Assessment: Partnerships in Knowledge

    It is certain that the costs of introducing distance learning into education are going to be high. Too many schools are at odds over how to deploy blended learning support and manage digital preservation services. Aaron Cohen Associates (library consultants) support the development of the digital library, because libraries have resources to support all types of services. Libraries have consistently strived to make services better whether it was moving from print to digital or from an archive of treasures to an outreach model.

    All of the libraries we have worked on and planned have grown because they took the time to reflect and learn what they were doing right. We guided them though difficult times and led them through challenging budgets, because change isn’t easy. Below are steps we take during our technology needs assessment process. ACA’s 360 Design includes our visual scan. This is a step by step process that will result in a realignment of library services:

    Library Staff

    — Roles: responsibilities working with instructors/faculty
    — Review of instructional design for virtual learning

    — InfoTech Roles: Outreach Responsibilities and Staff Support
    — Coursework: Identify a case study to assess impact
    — Pilot Case Study: analyze literature to assess new concepts

    — Technology infrastructure
    — Support cloud and hosted learning platform(s), library management system and online instruction

    — Zoom meeting to review needs
    — Develop Groups of Students 6–30 for needs assessment
    — Have Breakout Discussions

    — Course Material
    — Online LibGuide / Finders Support
    — Online Brand Identity
    — Digital resources
    — Digital media
    — e-books
    — Website Integration
    — Media / Videos
    — Via emails
    — Different journals, via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, News outlets different blogs

    Libraries need to build their partnerships to enable growth. CONTACT LIBRARY CONSULTANT


    We can see that libraries are starting to jump into the world of content production. Some libraries don’t know the first thing about producing digitizing content, while others have been focusing on historic content production and online research for years. When thinking about what kind of knowledge platform a library should offer, you should start with a mission and vision for the new digital library. You can look at other partnerships that resulted in a digital library. This can be a guide to a successful strategy; one that helps you create a better user experience for your community.

    Richard Ovenden, Oxford University Bodley Librarian, received a generous donation from The Polonsky Foundation that enabled the library to launch a collaborative initiative, which resulted in a digital humanities library. Thinking About the Types of Librarians Required: Learn what a digital archivist does – Bodleian and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Today, there are than 1.5 million pages from their collections have been made freely available in digital format. This platform of knowledge has been created to enable blended learning, using technology to safely access the worlds history.

    Our technology needs assessments build on data sciences, which we call library program modeling. We help libraries develop the next platform for knowledge including infotech, design of services and strategic planning. Our 360 design strategy provides a framework for innovation – a step by step process to build the next library.


    technology planning

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    The Beauty of Structure: Design Thinking Works

    Experienced designers know that putting the guardrails on a library design process can stifle the outcome. However, managers on innovation teams generally are not service designers and they don’t know the first steps to take to begin an improvement process. As Kaaren Hanson explained in a 2018 Harvard Business Review Article – “Why Design Thinking Works” stated “Anytime you’re trying to change people’s behavior you need to start them off with a lot of structure, so they don’t have to think. A lot of what we do is habit, and it’s hard to change those habits, but having clear guardrails helps us.”

    Co-Creating Using Design Thinking
    Co-Creating with stakeholders is a key ingredient of our 360 design service and it is part of a framework we deliver to our clients. It is a process of library consulting that thoroughly integrates library staff, collections, operations and services. Organized processes keep people on track to build goals, enable change and improve the future. It is not surprising that success is tied to organized approaches.

    Design Thinking Example
    Below is an example of a design thinking experience. Our team integrated VLM storage system inside a new student success center building at Tri-County Technical College. This innovation enabled the library to expand its seating and keep library resources safe and secure onsite. The adaptive design for the new library speaks for itself.


    student success center


  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    Library Building in Times of Change

    The extend to which historic libraries are able to thrive and succeed as a community resource depends on the kinds of services and opportunities the library builds. Libraries are more likely to behave in ways that undermine their chances for success when they are NOT connected to strategic planning. Libraries that do not program their services, receive little feedback and are ill-equipped to assess their prospects for success and are therefor less able to build the confidence they need to proactively seek improvements.

    According to “Reframe Advocacy to Highlight Library’s Essential Services” Laura O’Grady (Library Director – Hershey Public Library) argues that portraying libraries as a essential service when deciding how to spend a shrinking municipal budget is critical. The library is not just a quiet haven for books and it shouldn’t be put in comparison to a new police car. This is like comparing apples to oranges.

    • By not specifically highlighting how the work of public libraries impacts disadvantaged populations we’re simultaneously selling ourselves short, reinforcing the idea that libraries are for some and not all, and slowly but surely digging our own grave. Our advocacy must start getting real about who is using our libraries and for what reasons.

    Our research confirms that library data of the past is simply not accurate today. While books have been part of libraries since their beginning, public libraries have always been organizations where those of lesser means can come and access educational resources, build a new work of resources, learn a new language or skill. When libraries are more embedded with the communities needs, they are also aware of opportunities to share resources, support education, job skills and literacy.

    Most libraries struggle with the multitude of challenges – building, staff and access to collections. We need to avoid the failures that can affect the libraries ability to thrive and succeed. This includes loosing focus on what is important. Below are important findings from PLA Survey on Libraries (Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19: Survey of Response & Activities Libraries Respond: COVID-19 Survey Results (May 2020). It clearly shows the opportunities for libraries to continue to build a better future for the communities they serve.

    A few years ago, we saw a classic example of the multitude of challenges dynamic playing out at the E. Norwalk Public Library in which community leaders noticed that students of lesser means didn’t use the library’s books. The community came together and participated in workshops, students joined the discussions and told us to improve conditions with a homework space for disadvantaged youth. Our research showed that the library is a learning space. All libraries need to plan for students and encourage activities for them to build skills.

    covid survay clip

    AARON COHEN ASSOCIATES, LTD have developed a series of programmatic models that help define the variables for success. What our clients found and realized, however, is that it is not easy. It requires belief’s in differences of opinion and self-confidence to take on the responsibility of our national library treasures.