• 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,  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,  Space Planning

    Appreciative Inquiry and Library Planning

    Appreciative Inquiry has been described as an affirmative approach to change management. It is a cooperative search for the best parts of the library building, service and organization. It involves a systematic discovery of what gives a library or library system life.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD applies this concept on both small- and large-scale library projects. We follow the following steps to determine the existing conditions of a library and its future needs:

    1. Discover: We provide workshops on library planning, engaging stakeholders in a series of workshops. We study the potential for positive change and seek to understand the culture and character of the library. Our questions help reveal the present state and the future potential.
    2. Dream: Our plans start as a bubble diagram suggesting proximity and relative sizes of areas. What gives life to this area? What functions need to be adjacent? How much space should be allowed for different services?
    3. Design: Library plans will show the footprint: the area that the library occupies on the site. Some architects will show book stacks, tables, chairs and staff work equipment at this stage. We call these program tests.
    4. Deliver: A Library Service Planis a vital planning tool. Ideally, each piece of furniture and equipment is drawn on the plan in an early phase, since shapes of functional areas are often set at this stage. Capacities for books and seating in each functional area is calculated and approved by the library director, staff, administration, etc.

    Here are some sample questions to ask when reviewing a plan:

    • When users enter the library, can they understand the layout?
    • What are the strengths of the space?
    • Are books visible and arranged in a clear and simple order?
    • What are the existing conditions? What works?
    • Are functions arranged so that you walk through the noisy area to the quiet area?
    • What is the best part of the library?

    CONTACT US

    library consultant planning process

  • 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,  Space Planning

    Use of Color in Library Planning

    Color can be a way to define and complement the learning spaces in a library. We can consider the combination of colors and tone of the space, allowing us to overlay our learning modes (social, collaborative, presentation, touch point, reflective) and improve the learning environment.

    According to Aaron Cohen Associates, ltd, there are four basic color schemes: colorless, monochromatic, related, and contrasting.

    • In the colorless scheme, only black and white are used. In this scheme, only the natural colors of the building elements are use.
    • In the monochromatic scheme, only one color is used – alone or alongside black and white.
    • In the related color scheme we use the colorwheel to define the space. For example, we might suggest earth tones – rust, orange, brown and yellow.
    • In the contrasting color scheme, the designer positions opposite colors in different zones. If the colors are too vibrant, a little bit of white or a neutral color can be used as a bridge to create a contrasting effect.
    • Considering a library redesign? Consult with experienced library programmers and designers. CONTACT AARON COHEN LIBRARY CONSULTANT

    Libraries can be difficult to design. Start to understand the color scheme for your library space. Is it cold? are there hard surfaces? do the colors enhance the behavior in the space?

    library design

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    The Library’s Newest Role: Remote Office

    Libraries serve an important role in today’s digital world: they offer a work space for those without a traditional office. Collaboration is a key service used by today’s patrons. Shared work space, such as WeWork, provides startups and small businesses with the tools for success; libraries can offer the same service in their communities. Library consultants help you determine the potential of your information services.

    According to Medium.com,  Library Visits Have Gone Way Up Over the Last Two Decades.Many people do not have a traditional office, but need the amenities and tools of the modern world: computers, wi-fi, printers, scanners and meeting space. Corporations and governments are rethinking the working environment; libraries should respond by developing a responsive library service program.

    Library consultants help you understand the requirements for different users and outline the strategies to increase the value of services. Most importantly, such a program can help meet the needs of the groups and individuals in the community. We always look to future needs, because change is constant in our world. A lot of people want to know how to do library programming; besides service point / touch point (circulation/reference desk) services, library consultants help define digital components, web sites, branding, research services, ILL, makespaces, STEM and much more.

    Certainly, the impact of sustainable collection strategies and the use of data to create more responsive library services is a trend in library science. Indeed, we strive to incorporate new library service standards into our work. This includes new strategies that leverage information provided by  GreenGlass and Hathitrust. More detailed data means we can program responsive spaces, adding new ideas like STEM programs and accessible work space.

    FOR MORE INFO ABOUT OUR SERVICES – Contact Us

     

  • Library Planning Research

    The Library Program: a Vital First Step in Design

    Aaron Cohen Associates’  library programs have improved the design of libraries worldwide, integrating architecture, IT and service. A program is the first step in the conceptual design process; it is vital to give it time and attention. As part of our program work, we build connections between people, facilitate workshops and offer solutions for space and service challenges. 

    A library program outlines where seating, computers, lounge seats and group study area are placed. They also show where the library provides circulation and reference services. The seating spaces can be social, collaborative, or quiet and have adaptable furniture.

    The library program can have a profound influence on the quality of your library environment. It is important that a program is adaptable, able to respond to the changing needs of patrons. In addition, careful choices of furniture and lighting can enhance and modernize your space. Here are some factors to consider when developing a program:

    • Make sure your program and planning documents are easy to read and free from complex solutions.
    • If you are considering new seating, test the library space. We recommend self-sustaining scenarios/solutions and interventions. Demo the furniture, ask users what they think, run a library planning workshop, etc.
    • Ensure your library design accentuates natural light and fresh air.
    • Try to incorporate flexible, stackable furniture and moveable walls to maximize flexibility. Spaces should serve multiple purposes when possible.
    • Avoid fabrics, soft furnishings and broad-loom carpets; these materials make it harder to keep the library clean.
    • Use a variety of lighting: spotlights, up-lighters and diffused lighting controlled with dimmer switches can provide flexibility for different functions.
    • Provide book walls with plenty of new books to add more energy to your library.
    • Organize sufficient storage space to keep all equipment, last copy and special collections, so that work surfaces are clear and free.
    • Ask lots of questions, listen to your users and explore their vision.
  • Library Planning Research,  Social Library Issues,  work in progress

    Resolve to Update Your Library in 2019

    As time and technology advance, a library must keep pace with community needs. It may be time to develop a strategic or master plan, or to undertake a review and redesign to modernize a space. ACA can leverage our decades of experience to guide stakeholders through the process and ensure a good outcome.

    The first step is to look at existing space and services.  What services are offered—or not offered? What needs to be added? What needs to be left behind?

    To make these decisions, we focus on future needs, such as social collaboration, reference and technology access. Then, we develop a program and design that will meet these needs, following a timeline and phases with specific milestones.

    ACA will work with you to:

    • Review existing conditions: space, service and staff.
    • Consider future needs and ways to fill in the gaps: more collaborative space? Fewer print titles? More programming rooms?
    • Develop a program and design to meet the needs and modernize the space.

    Want more information? Contact Us!

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

    Improve the Library, Improve the Community

    Libraries have long been the heart of the communities they serve.  Eric Klinenberg is a pioneer promoting such social infrastructure as a way to improve lives. As author of Palaces for the People, he has come to the same conclusion that we have in our 47-year history planning libraries: if you build new libraries, communities grow and thrive.

    Sometimes it seems impossible to get support for the local library; funds are often tight, and people have a negative view of the space, creating a vicious cycle. Restricted library funding can have real consequences, including underdeveloped children’s and teen services. This in turn affects the youths’ ability to network, thrive in their community and grow into well-rounded individuals. Kids may just “hang out” in the street or get chased away from public areas like stores or parks. Eric Klinenberg analyzes this problem and offers examples of the public library as a solution. The library offers kids a “third place” and a shared home away from home. This reduces their isolation and improves the community.

    Part of providing this social infrastructure is designing spaces that allow for various activities: quiet work, social interaction and so on. Aaron Cohen Associates’ Five Modes of Learning Workshops provide a platform to analyze how people use library spaces and how they may be improved to support more activities. It offers guidance on how to distribute the library functions in a manageable pattern, using behavior as an underlying guide for the design.

    To determine where the behavioral modes fit into the library, we use a hands-on method called the Visual Scan. Together the five modes of learning and Visual Scan enables our team to create innovations including more group study spaces and flexible, collaborative areas.

    Tomorrow, November 30th, we will host a workshop in NYC at Steelcase. We will examine how we can redefine the library experience. Join us! – CLICK HERE –

  • Library Planning Research

    Assembling Your Knowledge Management Team

    It is good practice to periodically examine the “roster” of your digital or physical library team, to seek ways to improve it. When developing or evaluating a team, each member will have certain characteristics that make them well-suited for a certain role. We run organizational development workshops to help libraries and digital asset teams maximize their human resources.

    According to ACA’s 45 years of building program research, successful library organizations are made up of a diverse mix of job titles, which require diverse human characteristics. Librarians and Knowledge Workers can be specialists, reference people or technical services pros.  Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD work with library staff and knowledge management teams to identify and shape the teams and increase effectiveness.

    Below are characteristics of each team member; we developed these based on the Belbin team building framework.

    Resource Investigator

    • Their inquisitive nature helps them find ideas to bring back to the team.
    • Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. A natural networker – the go-to person to test a new opportunity.
    • Challenges: Over-optimistic; can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.
    • A good person to follow up and build on research and delivery partnerships.

    Team Worker

    • The glue that keeps the team moving, using their versatility to identify the work required. The person that will complete the work on behalf of the team.
    • Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. A great listener who can avert friction between team members.
    • Challenges: Indecisive in crunch situations; avoids confrontation between strong willed team members.
    • Will be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.

    Coordinator

    • Helps the team focus the library service objectives. A person who can draw out other team members and delegate work.
    • Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent and builds on it. Goals setter.
    • Challenges: Leaders can be manipulative; they can offload work to other members reducing team effectiveness.
    • Can delegate work others, leaving themselves with limied tasks or challenges.

    Management Consultant

    • A highly creative person that is good at solving problems in unconventional ways.
    • Strengths: Creative, imaginative, dynamic-thinking, concept / ideas generator and problem solver.
    • Challenges: Might not be able to focus; may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
    • Can forget the good ideas and try to develop additional ones when none is necessary.

    Assessment Evaluator

    • Assessment professional; a good person to make impartial judgement when required. A good person to weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.
    • Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. A person that can see the options and recommend next steps accurately.
    • Challenges: Can be critical, lacks the drive and ability to inspire others.
    • Not all can make a quick decision. This staff member can be slow to come to decisions.

    Specialist

    • The project specialist has in-depth knowledge in a key delivery area.
    • Strengths: Dedicated, a self-starter and always moving forward with work. They will research and apply their knowledge management skills.
    • Challenges: May stick to the technicalities and not address the goals and objectives.
    • Can research a topic and overload if you don’t support their drive to find solutions to information resource needs/integration.

    Management Shaper

    • The staff member that will drive the team. This staff member will ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.
    • Strengths: Can handle the pressure and deliver. A dynamic staff member that has the drive and courage to overcome any knowledge management obstacles.
    • Challenges: A person who isn’t afraid to get in your face; Can offend people’s feelings.
    • Sometimes  need to get things done and they get aggressive, which can be harnessed to efficiencies when recognized.

    Implementer

    • A knowledge manager that can develop a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.
    • Strengths: Efficient and Practical, reliable and driving. This staff member turns ideas into actions and organizes work that needs to be done.
    • Challenges: Inflexible nature can be slow to respond to new possibilities.
    • Can slow down positive change if they are too inflexible.

    Completer/Finisher

    • Every project needs a person who will polish and scrutinize knowledge management work for errors; Research requires the highest standards of quality control.
    • Strengths: Searching out errors is natural to a conscientious knowledge worker. It is important to finish the project with defined outcomes including key performance indicators.
    • Challenges: Knowledge workers can be reluctant to delegate tasks which slows down progress.
    • Perfection is a strength until it impedes the delivery of knowledge resources.