• Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    Cultivating a Community of Practice

    Knowledge Management

    Exactly what is the next generation library?  Importantly, it requires an understanding of knowledge management and the development of communities of practice. We know libraries function differently depending on their collections, social capital and services.

    The major problem developing a modern library, intranet or new research portal concerns coordination. According to Dr. Katelin Tucker Cultivating Communities of Practice, CoP is defined as a “group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” We use Appreciative Inquiry as our methodology to provide knowledge management services.

    Our Survey

    We are constantly studying how libraries are changing to help design for the Next Generation. We help modernize the libraries, institutions, reduce waste, and improve coordination and communication with library users. We help libraries improve their services.   We want you to share your thoughts on CoP at your organization.

    Take our Survey on Library Communities of Practice.

    Getting the Project Started

    At most corporations or startups library consultant coordination includes getting the service planning project started. This may involve sending and receiving benchmarking reports. It may include community engagement workshops, following up suggestions, contacting the right agencies. It may include a review of IT technology, architecture, government policies and/or corporate requirements. It also may involve creating a budget, keeping it in line, then working with the leadership, architects, IT, engineers and marketing communications specialists. It includes researching vendors, directing the development of the library, and generally, throughout the job keeping defining and updating the requirements as much as possible.

    For service planning projects a library consultant may perform this work. In most cases the Library Consultant is very important at the beginning of the process, either right before the architecture, IT integration and collection development efforts are considered. It is good to get the consultant onboard just when budgeting is about to begin. The bigger the project, the more likely the library consultant is to be hired at an early stage.

    Project Management

    Someone must be responsible for shaping the library community of practice.  This includes keeping lines of communication open between all those involved in a group. This is true for most library planning projects.  In special cases, such as at a small research library, the project might be conceived, planned and implemented by an individual. It’s a strength when your project team has practical project management experience.

    The skills of a variety of people must be utilized during the course of any library reorganization, renovation and service planning project. Administrators/staff members, marketing consultants, IT professionals, stakeholder groups and vendors/contractors as well as a host of others may be required to work on the job at one time or another.  Lisa Jeskins from CILIP, UK provided a Webinar at the 2019 American Library Association Meeting.  It is a good resource to help you build your project management skills.

    Library Support

    Developing a new library? We have been researching accelerated information for years.  A librarian can preform as the subject matter expert.  Since even minor integration of library services have a tendency to become quite demanding, for this type of work someone at the organization may have to put “work as usual” aside. Basically, any library service project will require someone with an MLIS; a library science researcher and/or project manager.  Staff help define and validate the service plan. Otherwise, the end result will be confusion.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD studies modern digital library systems and asset management software.  We have implemented user strategies to develop online library services. For example, when we work on Digital Asset Management planning projects, the wise leader designates a high ranking staff member as coordinator that works directly with the library consultant.

    What to learn more about why libraries matter? 5 Laws of Library Progress


  • Library Planning Research

    Library as Public Space

    While preparing for a new public library project, Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD studies the latest designs. The New York Public Library with help from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is an interconnected set of learning spaces. The building connects patrons and activity throughout the building. This is very good, but at the same time, it is a reminder that the library program is a challenging effort.

    A public library needs to support a variety of functions, and the library program needs to enhance the user experience. It needs to provide users with the learning spaces they desire. This is always changing, requiring us to update our library programming architecture models.

    When we programmed the new National Library at the SNFCC, the park was not established yet. The team needed to consider how to create a public space experience, an event hall and library. Looking back, our greatest achievement at the SNFCC library in Athens was its diverse set of learning spaces. We created a center in Athens that was more than just a library.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD supports the design and planning of innovative public centers all over the world. One area of experience and skills is development and programming of public library space. We plan adaptable library spaces.

    Global Library Planning

    While programming with ACG Architectural Consulting Group on the Mohammed bin Rashid Library in Dubai, we made sure the public space was a bridge from the informal to the formal library. As a library consulting and design firm, we ask ourselves, “What did the greatest architects in the world create intentionally?” What were the public buildings vision 100, 200, 300 years ago?

    America adopted the architecture of the Italian Renaissance to develop the library of congress. Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of Andrea Palladio. Andrea Palladio modeled the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore after a Greek temple. The new library building takes Palladio and turns it on its head. It reflects the symmetry of renaissance architecture leveraging the latest in building construction and design. For example, the spans allowed us to create great open spaces just as Jefferson would have approved. We wanted to help Dubai project a new architectural renaissance. The library is one of the most inspiring designs of the 21st century and a true experience for the visitor. Below is an example of our children’s library – it is a diverse and effective library program.

    When we worked with Studio Seilern Architects in London on an innovative library project in Eldoret Kenya, we analyzed the community and found that the best marathon runners came from the area. We could see there was a global demand for these runners, and we could see that there were opportunities to design this community library. Our central focus needed to reflect the best there can be. The architect designed a running track into the site plan. The track running circumvented the library, so that the kids and families could visit, do some running and learning too. It was designed as a small village with independent learning spaces. We worked with Christina Seilern and Rita Field-Marsham to understand and develop community of the future – “library as public space”

    Library Programming and Planning

    Where does our public library programming and design come from?

    You might say that the public library spaces we programmed are defined by their pieces. We have developed program models for libraries. These come in handy when you want to develop a new library or renovate an existing one. Certainly, we learned that public libraries need to be integrated with its indoor and outdoor environment. We need to make sure the spaces have a healthy flow with windows, natural light and outdoor welcome spaces. Well, you can add park space to a library. It can help you shape and form the site plan to support the community and provide a sustainable environment.

    Language of Library Planning

    What’s the language of public library architecture today?

    Our work reflects the community. We support the sustainable libraries initiative. Our work supports the local community through community engagement activities – interviews, open forums, workshops on library planning and center-making. Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD library programs for public libraries are basically public services defined. For us, it is important to ensure the library is flexible, expandable and sustainable. Our programs enhance the architectural designs. The programming is valuable planning tool. Once created, the program can be changed, providing the most effective net assignable square footage. This is a conservative strategy to make sure the library succeeds in its development.

  • Library Planning Research

    Library Architecture Building for Change

    This blog has been assembling what might be called steps toward an adaptive library architecture. The shaping of a confident, adaptable library project cannot emerge from a fragmented library program. Library design decisions need to be made right through the architectural design process. You are constantly finding out about the library services and its users as you are building it. That’s not the way its supposed to happen, but its the reality.

    Library Programming

    The major difference in a library building is its budget. Basically, there needs to be more money spent on the preplanning to ensure the structure of the seating spaces, power options, HVAC and collections management are balanced. Presidents, Provosts, CIOs, CEOs and Library Management need to focus on starting and finishing the project. They also need to ensure the library continues operations while its in transition. The budgeting process needs to continue throughout the planning and work phases.

    Actually, we have found that when a library project is starting up the team needs to develop a new plan to run the library. We call this the library operational plan. Revisiting and changing the operations must not be allowed to stop or to confuse the drive toward completion.

    Can a library learn while its running?

    Here we come into the realm of professional library staff and strategies to transition the library service(s). We often insist that librarians and educational leadership has a seat at the table — no matter how difficult the challenges are we help the library team understand the wholeness of the library project. If you want a library to learn and grow, you have to invest in a library consultant. It takes forceful management to impact the community, because it takes realism to achieve your goals.

    Project Management

    Basically, you can start with a self study. Sixth Sense Project Management provides a self study system to help you succeed not only in your library projects, but in any interpersonal relationship that requires a change in behavior. In Mr. Roeder’s book, he discusses how he succeeds by using a balanced approach of technical project management skills, business acumen and sixth sense people skills.

    Program Models

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD believes in making library program models. Not just one fancy presentation to the community but whole lineages of rough programming sketches and spreadsheets. Gradually, the library program aligns with the space and the service options until the library operational needs are uncovered. Opulent libraries like the Library of Congress, National Library of Ireland and/or the Smithsonian need to consider elaborate service models. They are always in transition with tentative portions of the building(s) defined by history.

    Once programming the library begins, the guessing and trying multiplies. A maddening amount of library project scheduling is required and adjustments need to be made. Even so our library design methods include a scheduling and agenda phase. Here we review what was done in the past and communicate that we want input. It turns out that every library project starts out with the same steps. Each time the results differ but the outcome is the same – a successful library that is improved and supports the changing community it serves.

    library planning method

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

    Library Consultant – Build a Future

    In any library, research shows that rarely will more than two people sit on a three-seater library lounge, unless the people know each other. Strangers will sit as far apart from each other as possible. This indicates that, as far as adult libraries are concerned, small tables and tablet arm chairs often work best.

    At Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD, we know how to plan library environments and help develop the library services. Above is a sample academic / research library for penn state university. Basically, we developed the library by analyzing the number of spaces for each type of work space.

    Library Science Coach

    The word coach is used to describe a teacher with special expertise that he or she uses to help research subjects and skills. Our knowledgeable library consultant, coach and planning experts enable presidents, CIO, CFO, provosts, city managers and library leaders to achieve their goals. Basically, we put all hands on deck to move the organization forward.

    According to The Coach in the Library, Like coaches, an effective librarian (also called a media specialist these days) gives leaders ideas and resources for collections, instruction, models, and programs.

  • Our team provides information when library leaders, educators and board members have questions.
  • Our library planning research provides an opportunity to build a programming strategy in both horizontals and verticals i.e. online and the physical planning of a library.

  • One of the most important challenges caused by advances in society and technology is the inequality of access. Basically, this includes access to online library services and access to a learning space. We are confident that library buildings improve the community. A library can be a conduit to mental health, care coordination, coaching, academic advancement and independent education.

    Consequently, the resources our library consultants bring to bear on a project includes subject matter expertise in library planning and architecture. We support communities through a wide range of planning, space programming, library technology integration, social media & healthcare, and special collections guidance. Many decisions need to be made to improve a library; start now.

    Forecasting the Future of Library Science

    Every library lives contradictory lives — as a habitat and as a property. There are several ways to measure the impact and visualize the outcome. We know that visualizing the future can help you understand your community. Zehra Taşkıns published a very interesting study of bibliometrics’ and library publishing. She analyzed over 120k articles focusing on library science. Taskin used Flourish Visualization Software to visualize the LIS community. The Bibliometric Study illustrated the diversity of Library and Information Science. Below you can see the diversity of spaces from open library environments to individual study spaces. Below is a sample from a recent library program.

    library planning

    Blasting Off into the Knowledge Management Environment

    After two decades of library programming and planning, learning environments have entered the knowledge management age. Basically, we call this the trusted service plan. It is based on building communities of practice and activities to build trust. Factors believed most significant in defining the range of online environmental relationships pertinent to student success and/or organizational teams.

    Mobile technologies, laptops, and advances in library content management software now make it possible for librarians to link into online education platforms (Canvas, Odigia, Blackboard, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and offer knowledge management services. It is now possible to share vast amounts of information with your community, build on the individuals, support local businesses that makeup the Trusted Learning Environment (tutors, teachers, educators, etc.).

    Contact Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD library consultants to build your library, special collections or content management platform.

  • Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
    Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Space Planning

    School Libraries and Academic Innovation Labs

    As we begin the new school year, we would like to take the opportunity to share one aspect of how a school or academic library can make a difference in the lives of each student. Libraries can inform classroom instruction, and provide innovation/design thinking space to strengthen skills-based remediation. School & academic libraries can help coordinate with campus leaders to support the faculty, building their design thinking spaces and services.

    At Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD we gather school data and help the academy learn how to apply best practices, resources and educational research. To achieve this end, school librarians work with us to understand their user needs. They research strategies to enhance the learning environment including collection needs, classroom / lab applications and learning disabilities support.

    Library Planning and Innovation

    When we analyze the outcomes for students and faculty our library design methods can go one step further and translate these findings into applicable programming for the student spaces, sharing this research not only with campus leaders and faculty, but also educators, fundraising, advancement and professionals nationally and internationally. When we use this type of design thinking for programming, libraries can start to offer new types of services and environments – spaces to enhance research and innovation.

    Academic and School librarians need to know that they are part faculty & part innovator. They can function across all campuses with thoughtful and strategically planned design thinking opportunities that aim to deepen understanding and equip teachers with proficiency in utilizing research-based remediation methods.

    Our school library programming and academic service planning designs efforts include opportunities for faculty members to engage with one another, collaborate and problem solve, while delving into the cognitive science of learning and behavior. Our comprehensive programming supports faculty with professional design thinking, planning & learning workshops. We offer a methodology to improve the impact of your school or academic library services.

    Design Thinking Methods for Workshops

    Below is a picture developed on School Library Journal from the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design in conjunction with the Stanfords D School in Innovation Lab Brings Design Thinking to Schools Hasso Plattner Institute of Design

    According to Sam Seidel at the the Stanford D School, over 800 school leaders have participated in our School Retool fellowship or design thinking innovation programs. They explore the use of Innovation labs and services utilizing aspects of design thinking. They transform their school culture with the goals of increasing equity and deepening learning.

    For students, design thinking in the library can be a fun and freeing new way to learn. To be able to transform your library and learning center into an innovation lab – a place where students can explore their skills multiple days a week. Contact Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD to start planning your innovation lab

  • Social Library Issues,  Space Planning,  work in progress


    Understanding the learning garden and library environment involves special problem solving, navigation, trying to make sense of a chaotic book shelving system wayfinding information that may help interacting with the three-dimensional environment. We do not process information about the library environment the way cameras or computers do. Our processing is full of listening sessions. Understanding the special way humans think about library environments will help us to design better settings. The central concept is legibility, or the ease in which a library may be organized and what makes sense to the user?

    Our Library Consultants have learned there four elements that contribute to a learning garden or library environment.

  • Paths – The routes along which people travel. Typical paths are walkways and corridors.
  • Edges – Non traveled areas like the window wall edge. I call this the “living edge” of a building. A place where the user can sit and relate to a nature; or just see outside.
  • Zones – Moderate size areas that have a particular character, the users can identify with such areas as a Periodical Reading, Reference/Computers, Children’s, Rare books, Quiet Study, Conference and Meeting Rooms. A zone of the collection can strongly contribute to the legibility of library if it is well defined and legible. We do not gain, house and recall information about locations, distances and arrangements mechanically, yet our way of processing environment information can be made easier if the user has clear paths, and defined edges and zones.
  • Nodes – Identified points that users in libraries travel to and from often at junctions of important paths, like circulation desk and reference desk. These key intersections or nodes are staffed in traditional library and served with technology using the digital library.

  • Library Design Supports Productivity

    library carrels

    The dynamic of the changing library and the use of technology can enable the development of online information services and spaces. The online library provides the interface, junctions, and paths that can be displayed in popular gathering areas. We can provide QR codes to bring the library collections and resources to life.

    Here are a few helpful links & QR code generators:

    Library Interface Use Cases: QR Code In Libraries
    Strategies to Create and Test QR Codes:
    QR Code Generator
    QR Code Monkey

    Understanding the Learning Space, Interface and the Living Environment

    Understanding the library spatial environment, its place, like environmental perception must be studied indirectly. The library design goal is to extract an accurate representation of what the user wants and needs in a library & the environment. The commonest way of approaching this problem is by observation such as visiting other libraries and meeting other librarians on ALA Connect.

    The library design assessment will be more meaningful when the individuals sketched a layout, constructed a scale model, or estimated distances between various elements, bookstacks, etc. The layout or sketched map of the library may be limited in its accuracy by such factors as the individuals drawing ability memory and problems with scale translation. If the map depicted a person’s activity patterns then some for the problems relating behavior patterns, the way people actually use space can be improved and reinforced.

    Library environments are not thought of in the same way by their inhabitants – age, sex, as well as familiarity with the setting, the location of the various functions, reference, and meeting room tables all affect the way we feel about the library. Spatial cognition or understanding of the user interface may also be affected by visual or spatial abilities, personality and intelligence. Our Library Consultants help libraries transform services and space, technology and services. We know that a library can be a big traditional table with lighting and power or an open learning space. We know that living things and plants add to the learning environment.

    We support libraries and bring them up to date. We are international library consultants and planners – Contact: Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD

    library individual

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Space Planning

    New Library Planning Methods / New Digital Resource Strategies

    To begin the development of a library or digital asset management project, consider methods of zooming into a problem and zooming out. This will give your organization the ability to plan and develop a kaleidoscope of opportunities. We know that you can improve your library service and your community resources. Is there a group of users that you are not reaching? Are there digital products that can expand access to the collection(s)?

    According to Jean-Louis Barsoux, Michael Wade and Cyril Bouquet, “Identifying Unmet Needs in a Digital Age” – Ask What Digital Can Add. Digital tools make it easier to observe the behavior of your users, because it allows the organization to learn from its success. The organization can be more responsive to the user experience. You can study how to provide better services to your users, and improve the user experience. If you keep looking at the same people, in the same context, with the same tools, you risk missing new innovation, efficiencies and opportunities.

    Strategic Thinking Workshops

    Learn the lay of the land. Organizing a Design Thinking Workshop is perfect for AI / digital asset management / library planning projects. If your organization is going through a digital transformation and the library service requires a library consultant we can help make decisions. We can support the service and space modernization plans, user analysis and research. We can analyze your digital asset management, product strategies, service planning and collection development strategies.

    Library Planning Methods to Build Momentum

    While our library planning workshops follow many tried and true methods to build momentum, they usually start with a handful of people at a given time and expand from there. The workshops offer unpredictable results that are fueled by the your team. We build on the community’s enthusiasm, commitment and dedication. They tend to require hard work and scheduling – the preparation needs to be organized. When they are organized using Aaron Cohen Associates planning methods, it generates a lot of excitement.

    The number of opportunities or strategies generated by this type of initiative can be staggering. For these projects can make a big impact on the special library. It starts with a series of workshop that we can deliver to all types of libraries and digital systems development teams. We focus on the most ordinary type of user. We use the resource strategies to plan for the future.

    Identifying Library User Needs in a Digital Age

    Below is a diagram based on Harvard Business Review Article and Authors Visualizations – Graphic Method.

    library user experience methods
    library planning methods
  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning

    Welcome to the 21st Century Library

    To challenge your current perspective, you can view the library as an educational community center. You can look for commonalities that point to unmet needs. You can program the library service to support distance learning and you can configure circulation services to support pick up services. Our planning team helps learning communities uncover opportunities to thrive and grow. We call it the kaleidoscopic discovery method (see graphic below).

    Our library programs make it possible to quickly sift through space planning data and surveys. Our project data supports the basic requirements for library service and offers a wider perspective. During our community engagement workshops, we learn about the community and we look for commonalities that point to unmet needs.


    On a grand scale the library is a symbol of our culture. It effects the local educational and cultural fabric of the community. This means that we need to recognize the value of library planning. We need more places that function like grandmas house – friendly but not intimate. We need to understand that the public’s third place is a library. How do you manage collections, technology, infrastructure and the cloud?

    There are no easy answers, and the library solution to a problem may not work for another library. There are no cookie cutter approaches. But consider the possibilities that your historic library can be renewed through a process of discovery. We’ve seen many library initiatives succeed. That’s because libraries grow much bigger over time.

    CBS Program On 21st Century Libraries

    As Erika Connelly showed us in “Welcome to the library of the 21st century/ via @cbssunday – the library of today requires innovation.

    Librarians are primed to focus on how to meet the unmet user. They need support to go deeper and explore what is possible. After all, what happens when something not done?

    Library Planning Methods

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology

    Strategies For Your Library’s Tech Intensity

    Technology has always found a home in libraries. But applied library tech – website / interface design has often been consigned to the backrooms of libraries. Fortunately, that’s changing. Several libraries now boast quality collections and learning solutions online. These library systems, rich with examples of databases & service tools, offer a great way to deepen community support.

    Professional library planners and designers analyze (and obsess over) tech designs. So should you (except for the obsess part). Analyzing the design of your user experience or just browsing the web – can sharpen your eye. While thousands of libraries provide online collections and services – many strive to offer more value, these libraries and systems gave us some ideas on how to approach user experiences.

    Here are Library Collection and Organization Examples.

    Smithsonian Libraries – Collection Search: Collections & deep links are possible.
    university of illinois at urbana-champaign library: new primo integration with other libraries.
    Salt Lake City Public Library System – Digital Library: Organized content to support the library user.
    King County Public Library – Online Resources: A – Z approach to finding a resource.
    Austin Texas Public Library – Virtual: w/ Spanish Option
    Darien Public Library – Community Focused
    Jacksonville Public Library – Research and Learning
    Yale Law School Open Library: Lillian Goldman Law Library Scholarship Repository
    MIT Library Research Guides
    Allard Pierson Repository
    KAUST: Innovative list of all databases on page
    Boston Public Library: Organized by Age and Resources
    Tufts University: Jumbo Search
    University of Illinois: Sharing Collections Across the State


    One of the most potent economic strategies is the development of user experiences. We believe that libraries are a place for change, providing library planning workshops is an opportunity to gain input.  It is an opportunity to build on the needs of the library user.

    A long time ago, we started working directly with libraries on their user personas. We developed a set of engagement exercises to understand who they are – where they are going – and – how they are going to get there. Our research sessions offered opportunities for members of the community to visualize the future.  We have a library of past project experiences that are offered to our clients.


    A great article by the New York Times gives us some insights into a basic community building strategy – “In Where Tennis Soars Despite Rugged Courts,” we learn that community building starts with opportunities for engagement – a tennis court. It is a place where people can volunteer and engage with other members of the community. It is a rugged tennis court that is close to the US Open Tennis / Arther Ashe Facility. It is a place that provides an opportunity to learn and share experiences.


    Design Thinking for Libraries can make a big impact on the digital asset resources available to the community. Good tech designs can change the world. Below is a score card you can use to think about your current technology and design status. You can share the score card with your team and rank your platform, library collection, virtual world and community.

    tech score card

  • Library Planning Research

    Thinking About Public Library Strategies

    It is not surprising public libraries are eager to help their communities. According to the American Library Associations core values – they provide access, education and life-long learning, diverse programs and professionalism. The libraries around the world are becoming more attractive places to be, and in absolute numbers increasing the access to knowledge.

    In the United Kingdom the Government states that “Libraries change lives for the better. They not only provide access to books and other literature but also help people to help themselves and improve their opportunities, bring people together, and provide practical support and guidance. As a locally accountable service, they are well-placed to respond to local needs and issues.”

    According to the Public Library Association President, Melanie Higgins “libraries are being asked to help solve community problems, respond to community crises, and provide leadership to help citizens literally survive a pandemic.” There is evidence that our libraries and librarians are important communicators helping people deal with problems. The buildings help break down the barriers to independent learning.

    • Flexible Libraries have features that make it a good fit for sustainable programs.
    • Digital Asset Management can be at a personal or community based level.
    • This can include modern buildings, flexible and adaptable spaces.
    • A place for children, teens and adults to learn how to conduct themselves in a professional environment.

    According to Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government by Mark H. Moore – we need to support an uncertain future by implementing a series of concrete actions, some planned and some improvised. This includes developing a needs assessment, service and building program, scenario planning and master plan. The actions unleash unpredictable influences that will help define the libraries strengths and weaknesses.

    The library planning process will help library and community leaders make many adjustments to keep their efforts to change on course. This may include interventions to change the digital services. More importantly, it will involve improvements to the libraries service, space and use. We know that it is hard to develop structures and planning strategies that improve the future. It is best to be organized by adding expertise to your libraries potential.

    Here are some helpful links to consider:
    Describing and Measuring the Value of Public Libraries.

    IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto

    Creating the Future: a 2020 Vision Plan for Library Service in New York State

    The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital technologies

    Maximize the Potential of Your Public Library – ICMA

    The Libraries Timeless Purpose

    Below is a graphic of the steps we take to support libraries in transition. We support the strategic development of libraries, including best practices and programs to support information gathering. We help communities define their public libraries and help build the next generation library services, buildings and access.