• 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.

  • 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

    The Community College – According to the President has value..

    We need our community college libraries to work within, across and beyond their boundaries. We need academic libraries to widen access to scholarly work whenever possible. Despite the lack of funding for libraries in the past, users are becoming more and more likely to use the library to retrain and retool themselves. The State of the Union offered an example of how the country can upgrade its knowledge by investing in community colleges. The President stated, “We need to promote new skills and better education so that all Americans are prepared to compete in a global economy. That’s why, tonight, I call for a new partnership between community colleges and businesses to help train and place 2 million skilled workers.”

    We are working on a couple academic library projects including the Coulter Library at Onondaga Community College. It can be retooled and upgraded with a simple plan to improve building use, function and flow. The investments will enable content to flow to the students within, across and beyond the library’s boundaries.

    In America Built to Last, the government can improve the lives of younger people by creating community college partnerships. The president cites a goal to retain 2 million people through the community college system. This concept tracks with our own research, indicating that learning environments will help students succeed in building skills for the 21st century.

    In other words,academic library’s matter. The physical space will to support the overall goals of the institution to bring student success by offering enhanced research environments. This can be measured by investments in library buildings and the research that results from collaboration.

    Student Learning Space
    Student Learning Space
  • Library Planning Research

    Building a Library high-risk, high-stakes situations…

    The art of managing a library building project is complex. It is an opportunity to review the library’s overall strategy for service delivery.

    According to Harvard Business Review, Extremis Negotiation

    “Strategy 1: Get the Big Picture”

    “Start by soliciting the other person’s or group’s point of view. Use what you learn to shape the objectives of the negotiation and to determine how you’ll achieve them.”

    “Strategy 2: Uncover and Collaborate”

    “Learn the other party’s motivations and concerns. Propose multiple solutions and invite your counterparts to improve on them. ”

    “Strategy 3: Elicit Genuine Buy-In”

    “Use facts and the principles of fairness, rather than brute force, to persuade others. Arm them with ways to defend their decisions to their critics, and create useful precedents for future negotiations.”

    “Strategy 4: Build Trust First”

    “Deal with relationship issues head-on. Make incremental commitments to encourage trust and cooperation.”

    “Strategy 5: Focus on Process”

    “Consciously change the game by not reacting to the other side. Take steps to shape the negotiation process as well as the outcome.”

  • Library Planning Research

    Library Building ADA Functional Requirements

    When our firm (ACA) plans and programs a New Library Building we inform our clients that we will be applying ADA standards. We believe it is very important to adhere to ADA building standards set out to support access for people with disabilities.

  • Improved access to library spaces, equipment and materials should enable everyone to enjoy the freedom to seek information.
  • When we renovate a library building we do a visual assessment. We tour Library areas and/or zones to determine if it provides ADA access or if the building space restrict user flow. Usually, book shelves that haven’t been rearranged for 20 years require rethinking.

  • For example, 36″ aisle spacing between the book stacks was a standard for library design. The stacks were planned for efficiency and not for ADA compliance.
  • When planning you may consider 46″ aisles to ensure access is provided and flow is improved.
  • Other ADA compliance issues that need to be considered are the staff work areas.

  • Non-compliant circulation desks and/or workstation spaces that can not be adjusted need to be considered a priority.
  • The staff require work spaces to ensure their positive energy and professional effort is maximized.
  • Library Planning Research,  work in progress

    One Thousand Libraries and Still Counting

    At the age of eight, Aaron Cohen was discovered! He was in the local branch of the New York Public Library near the Educational Alliance – a famous settlement house on the Lower East Side of New York City — where he showed his sketches to a teacher and librarian. They showed them to the Director of the Educational Alliance, who immediately invited Aaron to attend a class in the Adult Drawing Studio. The Director gave Aaron advice: “Keep going to the library and read about famous artists. Then, in your sketch book, draw what you see.”

    Drawing has helped Aaron throughout his life. It has helped him, as an architect, to convey ideas to his clients. It has helped him relax: after hours; on weekends; on vacation; wherever he went, whether on business or holiday.

    Recently, Aaron’s approach to drawing is a take-off on one of his favorite artists, Surat. He uses dots to create images and then, when necessary, fill in the voids. Because it is difficult to take colored inks on to airplanes, he now sketch solely in black and white. When he gets home, he may color portions of a drawing – or, he may leave it alone.

    In Aaron’s early years as an architect, he worked for several architects, including a seven year stint for Edward Durell Stone.

    In his next iteration, he became a campus planner at CCNY. Finally, in his early thirties, he opened an office in New York and had commissions for a slew of houses on Fire Island and in the Hamptons and in Oyster Bay.

    Aaron designed a number of innovative retail shops and boutiques along New York’s Madison Avenue when Madison Avenue was “hot, hot, hot”. One of his beach house clients was a professor at a major university in its school of library science. He introduced Aaron and his wife Elaine to the problems that libraries were having at the time. Aaron was fascinated, and this fascination caused the creation of a forty-year long career planning and designing libraries.

    Aaron began this career with the help of his wife, Elaine, who, today, is President of the firm. Twenty-five years ago, his colleague, Natasha Palevski, joined our office as a chief planner and designer. Ten years ago, Aaron’s son, Alex, joined the library consulting firm. Today, he functions as a major library consultant. Seven years ago, Carol Ninkovich, became our editor and office manager.

    Over the past forty years, Aaron has worked on more than one thousand libraries. He has worked on just about every type of library that there is: academic, public, medical, law, archival, museum, theological, governmental, etc. He has worked on libraries in just about every major city in the U.S. and also on libraries in small and medium sized communities, some of which are in out of the way places. Along the way, the Cohen’s coined the term “Information Commons” which is used by computing facilities in and out of libraries almost everywhere.

    Libraries have taken the Cohen’s all over the world: Alexandria, Egypt; Athens, Greece; Bermuda; Singapore; Brussels, Belgium; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Paris, France; Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. And everywhere Aaron went, he brought a sketch book and a pen and ink.

    Aaron is planning to do an exhibition in San Francisco in 2010-11 to mark his 75th Birthday. The exhibition will be a celebration. In his lifetime, he literally helped developed over 1,000 libraries. This enabled him to create a myriad of sketch books (more than 5,000 drawings). This is exhibition will be a celebration of Aaron’s sketch books and drawings – libraries and buildings, people and images.