• 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,  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,  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

    Improve the Perception of Your Library “Brand”

    Today, a library “brand” is often supported by a website and an app, in addition to the space. When a library user fails to use the library’s website, the library brand takes a hit. When the library’s design does not provide its intended use, the library decreases in perceived value. Every library is thus invested in the performance of their brand.

    According to our research,  a library is only as effective as its design. For instance, a beautiful library with an atrium has an advantage over a small branch library with no room. On the other hand, if a beautiful library does not provide the right spaces and services, the perceived value declines. To develop an effective design, we study user needs and group interactions. Such behavior translates into what we call the five modes of learning: reflective, social, collaborative, flexible and touch point. For example, users may read quietly or work collaboratively; they need space for both.

    Our library programming work breaks down the library collections, seating and staff requirements. Our methods are built on Schein’s cultural model. Interactions are broken into three cultural modes:

    1. Artifacts and Creations
    2. Espoused Values
    3. Basic Assumptions

    Learn More about Schein’s methods for knowledge management

    To obtain the greatest value, create spaces that relate to user needs. For example, if there is an underused space on campus that is old and out of date it may be time to do a library planning study. When we undertake such a study, visit the campus, facilitate exchanges, and develop a master library plan that is based on interactions between users and their environment.

    Once you complete this type of study, you will be able to categorize user needs, and make your library accessible. This improves the perception of your library “brand.”


    Join us November 30, 2018 at Steelcase NYC for an exciting program to learn about library design, programming and planning.

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    Library Planning Workshop November 3, 2017 – NYC

    Join Us Friday, November 3rd from 9am – 4pm – Learn More About Library Planning, Serivces and Design

    A One Day Workshop to Program Your Library, Develop New Digital Services, Create Learning Spaces & Support Facility Planning Efforts.

    The development of a 1Place libraries for higher education, health science, K-12, research and museum space is a challenging task. Our clients regularly ask us to share our knowledge about learning spaces, flexibility, and planning for the integration of technology and design.


    Our workshop attendees are normally people who have projects that are either in pre-planning or at the implementation stage.

    During the morning session, participants will learn our library planning metrics. They will do exercises and learn from case studies developed over our 40 year history including academic, public, government, medical, law and special libraries. Workshops include examples of: library program measurements, project management, service point design, data analytics, logistics and budget / capital management

    During the afternoon session, we will tour Steelcase to learn about different types of learning environments. If you would like more info about the NYC Experience download the brochure below.

    NYC Space Planning and Design Experience – Guide for Steelcase Worklife (1)

  • Library Planning Research

    Library Functions in an Accelerated World

    In an age of constant acceleration, Thomas Friedman is a Futurist who sees radical changes in our information landscape. In his book, Thank you for Being Late, he suggests that we need to empower innovation to establish radically disruptive new business models.

    Our research shows that libraries need to be updated faster. They should provide services that are fast, free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. Indeed, library technology needs to move from the 2007 model of “invisible services” to those that are visible and allow for collaboration and sharing. This means that the next generation of librarians will provide access to both physical and digital platforms. Both require information architecture to support modern day users with business analysis, teaching and learning, and lifelong learning pursuits.

    Throughout our 45 year history, our Library Consultant has stressed that planning should be forward-thinking. Today, we are trying to understand how the library can function in an accelerated world. What will this look like? What are the decisions to make that ensure the library will evolve and grow?

    Our group of librarians, IT professionals and architectural planners help our clients examine and redefine a library’s staff, collections and user space. To help clarify these concepts, Aaron Cohen built our consulting firm on the notion that we must prototype (what is a good library?) first and compare our ideas with the local user requirements. Our ability to define collection conditions at other libraries make this exercise worthwhile to our clients. We learn from our past ideas and build new types of library services in response to our rapidly changing world.

    A recent example of this analysis: we reviewed the impact of IBM Watson developer cloud & EEG signaling technology to learn how to extend library services into the data-enhanced AI world. These new types of libraries will help corporations use their databases with APIs to improve marketing, finance and sales. These new types of digital library services will use technology to help businesses understand the data they collect and learn how to use it; they will require both collection development and staff development to make them work. Contact us—we can help!

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  Social Library Issues,  Space Planning,  work in progress

    The Plausibility of a Virtual Library Concept

    Mobile devices once represented a “new frontier” in library service, offering more access and connectivity than ever before. Today, Virtual Reality (VR) applications represent the next wave in libraries. Motion-controlled technology will enable us to step into another world, no longer tethered only to the physical library space. Users will no longer be spectators but participants in the virtual library.

    This new technology offers exciting opportunities for knowledge management applications. For example, Kevin He, founder of Midas Touch, is developing physics-based animation games that incorporate real-world movements with the screen view. In the future, the availability of headsets will make it possible for library users to experience different worlds.

    VR technology growth is an indicator that things are changing in the research landscape: academic librarians and/or provosts looking to enhance research experiences need to pay attention this topic. Investment in a VR space will enable institutions to offer more value to students; these spaces and technology programs can further enhance student success. For example, a VR program might provide an enhanced experience such as being at the Grand Canyon, adding a new way for students to use information.
    Library planning for VR

    Planning these spaces will require new program ideas with a flexible library design. This isn’t about individual learning; virtual reality library will be a group space. Additionally, we will need programs and designs that offer safeguards for the distracted. Incorporating this new technology will require a library program that will help drive collaboration, knowledge and innovation in order to meet the needs of tomorrow.

    The five P’s–purpose, place, people, programs, and partnership–are a starting point for the library staff and knowledge management business teams. They will need to research how to blend library services in both physical and virtual worlds. They will need to offer cultural and educational experiences in both physical and virtual learning environments. VR technology has the potential to drive innovation, enabling research to happen all in one room or space. ACA can help libraries determine the hardware, software and spatial requirements for the virtual reality library.

    Below is a picture of Project Morpheus for PS4

  • Library Planning Research,  Space Planning

    Libraries – Measuring the Future

    At a functional level, the basic concept of library is not antiquated. The library space remains vital and important in the context of a learning model. We have a lot to learn about the use of the library and the behavior of the patrons. It is time to use simple technology to measure the library building; use this information to improve services.

    The language of library spaces and collections is traditionally tied to a paper, emphasizing physical qualities over functional characteristics. The challenge is to articulate the essential characteristics of the library space in terms that make sense for today’s user. We are developing library programs based on new data, measuring the learning environment in innovative ways.

    ACA has the capabilities to provide Google-Analytics-style dashboards for our library projects. We can help you analyze library building: movement of patons, number of visits, what patrons browsed, what parts of the library were busy during which parts of the day, and more.

    If you are a librarian that is on a limited budget, check out “Measure the Future” – they are developing crowd sourcing bots to support libraries that want to asses their space. They are creating simple and inexpensive sensors that can collect data about building usage that is now invisible. The pilot programs can be replicated at your library with students from the local scout club.

    Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD is striving to provide strategic design solutions. We help libraries and librarians make strategic decisions that create more efficient and effective experiences for their patrons. Contact ACA if you have a library service planning or space assessment project

    5 Modes of Learning