• 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,  work in progress

    Demographics and Library Planning

    One aspect of developing a space plan is understanding the demographics of a community. A building program comparing present and future space needs is created when we have a good understanding of how the community is changing. Some factors to consider:

    Population projections for the next twenty years: This will obviously have an impact on space use; if growth is projected, it should be a consideration for future design.

    Education: An education level of high school or above often correlates with higher library usage in populations of the same size. The US Census (American fact finder) reports can detail the percentage of people over the age of 25 who have completed high school or college. This can be a good indicator of the needs of the community and a first step to consider how the community is evolving.

    Median family income levels and percentage employment. For example: if unemployment is high, space and service needs may be affected as more patrons visit the library for employment information or to develop resume building skills.

    Below is an example of an interactive story time program. When we studied this library and its demographics, we saw growth in the number of families with children in the area. This helped us determine the needs for a larger children’s library.

    Want more information about how we can help? – click here –


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

    The Library as Learning Organization

    Developing the library as a learning organization is a steady trend in both academic and public libraries. Certainly, there is a need for a new leadership approach that will create an adaptable, balanced structure. According to Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline, “Ultimately, leaders intent on building shared visions must be willing to continually share their personal visions.” ACA is working on a number of projects where success is created by the successful: they are making a conscious choice to achieve greater balance with a learning-organization approach.

    The development of such an organization requires staff to focus on building a shared vision.  We work with the staff to gain structured feedback. We might discuss how the library is expected to provide digital services, user space and print collections. We ask questions, such as: is it really the library’s vision to defend manual processing? Like other organizations, the development of a learning organization needs to be well coordinated.

    The learning organization requires continuous investment in manpower, space, coordination and fundraising. It needs to be both adaptable and locally controlled. The focus must be on improving the quality of the user experience, while examining future trends. For example, how do young adults use technology? Pew Research indicates that 98% of “millenials”  use the Internet : Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 . Three fourths (77%) have a smartphone and tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%) Additionally, 79% of Millennials believe that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage.

    Yet, they know that important information is not always available online.

    According to Pew, “62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that. Therefore, the library still has an important role to play in both the digital and print worlds.

    Together, we can build better learning organizations and avoid the “negative spiral” that stems from a lack of direction. Start a planning study to develop a sharing culture in your academic or public library community.

    Library Consultant Predictive Model

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

    Library as an Incubator

    The idea that a library can be an incubator space and a place for innovation is something many librarians and educators share. We believe libraries can be learning hubs. They can be developed with a solid understanding of learning space design and library planning measurements. For example, “U.S. Plans Global Network of Free Online Courses,” the US government is going to develop “learning hubs” or incubator libraries.

    For Lila Ibrahim, the president of Coursera, “The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.”

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD developed five different learning modes that will support the development of the Library as an Incubator or Learning Hubs

      1. Develop reflective spaces for focused work
      2. Create collaborative spaces that can be facilitated – teacher/tutor/mentor/geek squad/librarian
      3. Design social interactions with touch-points
      4. Develop program, classroom and presentation spaces to run programs.

    In collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology, we held a workshop on the Library as an Incubator on Oct. 26, 2013. The program explored our unique planning methodology. Our host Charlie Bennett provided examples of how to develop innovation spaces and maker spaces. He will be speaking for the TEDX Telfairstreet and Tinker, Teacher, Maker, Space: Two Co-working Experiments in the Academic Library @ LITA 2013.

    Our workshop took us on a Visual Scan tour of the library’s collaboration spaces.


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

    As Search Goes Mobile, Apps Change the Way We Use the Library

    A couple of months ago, it seamed like all of the library information systems – ILS vendors were developing apps. The business of finding information had gone mobile; everyone was trying to develop a way to reach their customer more effectively. The New York Times article “As Search Goes Mobile, Apps Chip at Google’s Lead” discussed how searching for information is mobile. It states that Google is under pressure to change, because the behavior of searching for information is changing.

    Entering the library to find answers is going to be a lot more mobile for users. The mobile user will search for information in different types of environments. Shar VanBoskirk stated “there is a lot of pressure on search engines to delivery more customize, more relevant results. Users don’t need links to web pages. We need answers, solutions, whatever intel we were searching for.”

    We like to visualize and think about Apps as virtual “touch points” for content; providing new opportunities to find information. The mobile App can be combined with a physical “touch point” in and around a campus or in a community library.

    A synergy of positive feedback can be created in the library to enhance learning activities. Libraries act as connectors for social and public spaces. They can be flexible “research commons” – places with an enhanced wireless network, lighting controls, heating and cooling and flexible furniture.

  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues

    Learning with Technology

    The most visible signs of our embrace of digital media belongs to the students – young and old. The way they learn using computers, iPads, e-readers and smartphones are different than the past. They are quick to embrace the “library in the cloud” as Sugata Mitra describes in Build a School in the Cloud. It is natural for them to work in groups to learn. With just a little support from a “grandma” or someone who is older that encourages them as Mitra points out, the students can learn anything from a device connected to the net.

    The shift taking place in libraries is proving to be transformative in the ways we use information. It is not only Community Colleges and Universities that are being transformed, but as the Strategic Content Alliance stated in Sustaining Our Digital Future: Institutional Strategies for Digital Content – “The use of dynamic digital resources — websites, digital collections, databases of crowdsourced or born digital content pose opportunities and challenges that are all their own.”

    Our universities are working to understand the impact of globalization on higher education in an increasingly transformed environment. This ranges from overseas universities offering cheaper undergraduate and graduate programs to the development of “massive open online courses”, or MOOC’s.”

    It has become clear that a great deal of the content that libraries are holding today is expected to endure because of our natural embrace of technology. We need to start rethinking how libraries and learning centers can support this paradigm shift in the 21st century.


  • Library Planning Research

    Library ready for the post print world

    During our preparation for the Steelcase workshop on November 9th in NYC, we came across this link to a new type of library. Very interesting…click here

    The web site states, “The defining decorative element of a library has always been the books themselves. But now that institutions ranging from the University of Texas at Austin to ultra-traditional Cushing Academy are tossing their stacks in favor of digital collections, the question arises: How do you design a library when print books are no longer its core business?”

    At the University of Amsterdam, Dutch designers Studio Roelof Mulder and Bureau Ira Koers converted an existing 27,000-square-foot library into a massive study hall — without any visible books — to accommodate the 1,500 to 2,000 students who visit daily. Does this work?

  • Library Planning Research

    Online Learning Spaces – Library Learning Spaces

    For better or for worse, libraries and archives need to be able to maintain collections, migrating them from one building to another, converting physical space into learning spaces. We know that the library must deliver a suite of complex services necessary to maintain the collection in well-established formats. An assumption of formats do not do justice to the challenges libraries face. The delivery of digital objects is by no means sufficient for successful learning. We must develop better learning spaces too.

    The research shows that we do better when the academy provides shared learning space. The NY Times article:
    Learning in Dorm, Because Class Is on the Web” – outlines the new ways education is delivered and new technology that is having an impact on the need for good learning spaces. We know there is one way to improve student success and that is to provide real learning spaces. Places with productivity tools and professional staff (librarians) to support learning.

    One web site that proves the point is – “Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning.” In a NY Times article, “Live vs. Distance Learning: Measuring the Differences” – TRIP GABRIEL states: “An analysis of 99 studies by the federal Department of Education concluded last year that online instruction, on average, was more effective than face-to-face learning.”