• Library Planning Research

    A Library’s Purpose in Changing Times

    A library’s purpose will naturally change as cultures and technologies shift. The life cycle of a physical building is typically 20 years, but information technology, web sites, marketing plans and communication need constant updating. That means that all libraries need to develop a program statement and list of service improvements that they can build on. The digital component of a library has been brought into stark relief due to recent events; it should be a part of all libraries’ future planning.

    As a library planning team with many years of experience, we know how to plan for innovation – whether it is the building itself, or a transformation of collections, services and staff. We facilitate the process with a series of community engagement meetings and workshops. We lead staff and stakeholders in an inclusive process that uncovers what library services you can deploy within your community.

    In times of change such as this, the library can become a virtual haven. The New York Public Library is seeing a spike in E-book downloads. Libraries are offering digital services for people of all ages, from coast to coast. Ebook Services From New York Public Library  and the SimplyE app are examples of this work in action.

    library consultant methodology


  • Library Planning Research

    When it Comes to Service, Proportion is Everything

    Imagine walking into a library with digital and print experiences, a place with structured and unstructured experiences. The modern library should offer a space for meetings and events as well as a place for reading and working. No matter what type or size, all libraries share a common goal: serving their community.

    For example, distance learning is an unstructured experience that can support the library community. One such option is the  OpenHPI MOOC System, a collection of courses offered for free by Hasso Plattner Institute. Such services can help community members learn new skills or pursue a passion.

    Consider how structured or unstructured your library design is: how much of your space is dedicated to cozy reading? How much to small meeting rooms? What about books and other special collections?

    Analyzing the proportion of structured and unstructured services can clarify future needs. Is the library a place for face-to-face exchange or a space for focus? Is it structured to support user needs, or is there too much unstructured space that is not used very well? Is there a service desk and a place to ask for information, or is the librarian roaming? Every library will have different answers, but the questions are the place to start.

    Contact Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD to start your Library Master Plan

    design thinking workshop

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    New Library? New Collection

    As library consultants, Aaron Cohen Associates offers Opening Day Collection planning services to support new library development. We can help you employ a series of curation tools that will define all facets of your Opening Day Collection, from needs analysis to setup and delivery. A consultant can work with your project team to ensure the library collection enhances the user experience.

    We will define how to develop the collection, how they are cataloged and shared, and where they are located in the building. We will define how library collections are designed for browsing and community collaboration. We will make sure your library offers a consistent user experience and that the collection reflects support for your community.

    According to 7 Ways Collection Analysis Tools Can Benefit Your Library, the process can be integrated with library programming, including:

    1. Analysis of Library Data and Shelving
    2. Circulation Trends and Data Points to Make Improvements
    3. Balancing Your Collection
    4. De-accesion – Creating a New Vision for Your Collection
    5. Prototyping – Analyzing How to Get the Right Books into Your Collection
    6. Strengthening Funding Strategies
    7. Improve Staff Performance

    Recently, we adopted Design Thinking exercises to help our clients understand their needs. Our workshops put stakeholders in charge of their library programming. We can provide examples of the library programming process to help you understand the options. This will include your capacity to hold items and your ability to design a new user experience.

    Below are some links to help you begin your collection development work.

    Why Do You Need a Collection Development Plan?

    Three Cool Tools for School Library Collection Development

    School Library Design

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    Design Thinking – Library Planning Practices

    When tackling a major initiative like the development of a new library or an overhaul of a document management system, diverse teams need to engage in design thinking workshops. They need to start to discover and dream about the next generation services and they need to share new designs with their funders. Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD / Library Consultants recent research into design thinking for libraries, reveals an interesting paradox: Although people have the tools to do planning research – they do not have a process or the workshop framework to implement their vision. To put it another way, the lack of strategic investments in your library undermines the success of public services and no one has a plan to make improvements.

    We found that Library Board of Trustees need a constant flow planning of activities to improve the library. They need relationship-oriented workshops and task-oriented plans to create positive outcomes for the library. If the leadership goes to sleep, team performance drops and the environment suffers. According to Stanford D School on Design Thinking there are 8 core abilities you can use to kick start your Design Thinking process:

    Navigate Ambiguity
    Learn from Others (People and Contexts)
    Synthesize Information
    Experiment Rapidly
    Move Between Concrete and Abstract
    Build and Craft Intentionally
    Communicate Deliberately
    Design your Design Work

    When Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD / Library Consultants facilities design thinking / library planning workshops, we help community members engage in design thinking. It is a great opportunity to ask people to participate in the design, discovery & development project. The workshops have a cooperative human centered approach, providing opportunities for coaching and mentoring, sharing and building on design ideas.

    Library Planning Workshops are an opportunity to consider the challenges your library or digital asset management team faces and new technologies and furnishing solutions that will help the staff make user experiences impact-full. The workshops will help you learn about your libraries needs, creating a breakdown the design components and building new service models to test.


    Center for the Future of Libraries

    IDEO Design Thinking Background Methods

    HPI / SAP Design Thinking Methods

    The Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) design thinking

    So how can you start to socialize and create network-building practices? Start a master planning project – help leadership build the perception of success and make the community believe they are in good company. Ask team members about the idea it might start the transition from old to new.

    library design thinking

  • Library Planning Research

    Library Programming – Working to Optimize Student User Experience

    We know that the library must position itself differently in the 21st century. The books and spaces are part of the library building, but the library is also the primary non-classroom academic space on campus. It supports the student life cycle needs including the development of research assets and research skills. According to Educause Top 10 Library / IT Trends for 2020, optimizing the user experience is an important trend in library science.

    When students arrive on any campus, they are looking for guidance on how to be successful. If they find the library as a destination, they are likely to succeed at their grades and graduate on time. So, it is important for academic libraries to create an environment that enables students to be supported early in their studies. And as their college career unfolds, offer work environments and start up group work spaces.

    When we develop a library program it includes high-quality collaboration spaces with and without technology. The academic resources spaces we including in our building programs include tutoring, writing, math, science center space. They are strongly linked with academic programs on campus, creating opportunities for student success.


    In 2020, we will see more demand for individual study spaces as midterms and exams approach. In 2019, we were shocked by the amount of students who found that the library didn’t have enough space during mid terms or enough group spaces for project based work. It strengthened our resolve to re-balance our library programming, offering libraries more flexible / adaptable spaces.

    Our latest strategy is to develop library service programs that allow our clients to build the digital services and a improve the physical user experience. Indeed, we provide academic library space programs and service planning for librarians. We also develop master plans that allows our clients, for example, to change their learning environments from group spaces to individual work areas – configured for individual achievement when the semester requires and offered as a group space during the semester.


    We have been working on the library’s user experience and the challenges posed by IT and facilities for a long time. Our research has shown that all users need the same type of library information services including access to e-resources and databases. But they really need digital asset management skills, tools and training i.e. working with content and data creation tools. This issue is important for the library to plan for now, because the library needs to be known as a central destination for basic content and data science skills building. Many of our clients need digital asset management systems to support both researcher and small business / start up development on campus. Librarians can help in this area.

    How are libraries working with the IT organization to optimize students’ experiences?

    1. Develop a shared project with IT

    2. Analyze how digital asset management can be deployed to support student/researcher content generation and management.

    3. Develop a plan to improve your library services by investing in behavior learning space analysis and programming. Create a plan for the libraries space to be used to the maximum – what are students doing in the space and what digital resources are available for students to create their own research portal.

    4. Develop a plan to improve your user experience – if that means creating a digital asset management system to help manage scholarly research, start with a prototype and build the future.

    5. Create a master library plan that includes both library space and service needs.

    Today’s library is a social space, and a place to work collaboratively. It provides spaces to focus on your class work, but it is also built on a library collection. There are different types of collection development activities and different space needs for different users. In 2020, this trend will continue and librarians who build a bridge between these services will be successful on campus. Below is an example of a Rose State Community College tutor waiting for a student to work on a project. It is an example of the support librarians provide to students in the library.


  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    The Renovation Starts Here

    If you are planning a major renovation or a new facility, a positive outcome begins with a proven methodology and process. Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD specializes in library programming, with a focus on both space and service. Our workshops showcase innovation and thought leaders. Join us at SAP on January 30th for a free event focused on the library of the future.

    Is there potential relocate or add a new library service or space this year? If so, you must begin to create ideas, so that you will be able to share them with your organization’s leadership and project team. Your ideas and sketches will also help you work effectively with architects and planners.

    If you are ready to learn more about design thinking and how it can cultivate new ideas, join us on Jan 30, 2020. The Future of Libraries event will bring together experts from a wide range of fields and experiences. They will help you define what innovation means to you and how you can identify solutions to design challenges.

  • Library Planning Research

    It’s all about the library user experience…

    It’s never been easier for libraries to improve services – or so it seems. Open, adaptable, activity-based library spaces make people feel like they are part of the community. On the other hand, a recent Harvard Review Study by Ethan S. Bernstein (the truth about open offices) suggests that open offices reduce collaboration. We understand this problem. We analyze library use and find that people are doing more online learning, making zoom or gotomeeting calls requiring new types of libraries to support their needs.

    When did messaging displace phone calls? I don’t remember, but today’s work environment is filled with people texting and communicating. Sometimes person to person conversations are being replaced by a simple text. And Google, Slack and Microsoft now offer collaboration services displacing in-person meetings. How will the libraries respond to this new type of communication? How will the environment be affected?

    We are all living in real time and our physical and technology structures have changed our ability to experience our environments. We now communicate with multi-channel collaboration tools. In the future, we will be activating our space using AI, robots, NFC applications, blockchain systems and smart phones to seamlessly share our activities, relationships and experiences.

    Library Architecture is easy to observe if you understand the context and content of the user experience. There are reasons why library programming is needed. We understand how to define the behavior and help program the services/spaces for the desired interactions. Organically thinking, these individual behaviors together make up an anatomy of service responses – learning support, literacy, digital knowledge and cultural awareness.

    When designing the future try to understand how your library supports the face-to-face meeting, video conferencing, cell phone calls, social media, email, and messaging needs of the user. Are there places for people to do these things? Do you need to analyze our collections, seating and staff spaces? Is it time to make a plan?

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    Design Thinking Workshop

    Join Us on January 30th at SAP 10 Hudson Yards from 9 to 4pm AT SAP 10 HUDSON YARDS. The Design Thinking Workshop is a methodology developed by IDEO and enhanced by SAP to help businesses, educators, marketing and communication experts and sales administrators develop the next generation business. The workshop will define benchmarks and trends. We will show how to layer technologies that can be integrated into the organizational environment (technology, collections, staff, space, etc.). We will demonstrate how both digital and physical collections use participatory tools such as the digital asset management platforms.


    Click Here

    This workshop allows businesses, foundations, educators, librarians, administrators and marketing teams to learn how to use design thinking to improve staff practices. Our methodology for planning and design will assist in the development of the next-generation business – including corporation, academic, public, school, government, medical and research organizations. Participants will learn our design thinking methodology to build the next generation business environment.


  • Library Planning Research

    Revitalizing Academic Libraries

    Reimagining a University library can breathe new life into it, increasing student success and enhancing faculty research. Decision makers in the education field (Presidents, Provosts, Academic Vice President, Headmasters, etc.) often face a decision about how and when to update a library that has outlived its original space plan. Costs must be considered, and many building have historic significance. It is equally important to involve library staff in the process. Our clients know how important it is to build consensus when improving information literacy programs, student success and library service initiatives.

    ACA’s recent University work has had great outcomes. Here are two examples:

    Integrating Academic Resources into LeMoyne College

    LeMoyne College transformed its library through a phased planning process. First, we worked on the development of a Library Master Plan that included a New Quantitative Reasoning Center/ Writing and Tutoring Center. Then, we reconfigured the lower level of the library to make it a more welcoming and inviting space (see image below).

    Improving Service and Staffing at Norfolk State University 

    Norfolk State University needed an updated operations plan to improve customer service and staffing levels. Our analysis provided a foundation of service strategies to be used in conjunction with current staff capabilities.  It will enable the NSU library team to configure the best and most effective collaboration strategies.

  • 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.