Library Planning Research

Creating Learning Spaces Through Collaboration – The Library is a 3rd Place to Consider

The way students are learning with technology and the availability of social media is a change from the traditional lecture style class. Many complain that the PowerPoint Lectures do not work and that faculty should expand their knowledge of instructional technology to make the classes more engaging. The faculty resources center concept, a part of our programming model for the academic library, is important innovation in library space planning.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Lecture Fail? Students and Professors Sound Off on the State of the College Lecture,” students sound off about the way that some professors teach their course and the professors respond. They are having a conversation using social media. They point to a shared goal – develop a 3rd place for learning to occur – THE LIBRARY.

The Georgia Tech Library underwent a series of learning space renovations in the past six years ending in 2009. There are good photos of an academic library that can be used to explore innovative library spaces.

During planning at GT, library staff did a lot of work trying to understand the need for collaboration. They prototyped new 3rd spaces for students to work. However, the Educause article, “Creating Learning Spaces Through Collaboration” illustrated a lack of understanding before implementation. The article states, “while we were unsure if we had correctly guessed what students required in the space, we were lucky in that the end product was highly successful with students.”

We believe that a solid methodology that strives for innovation can eliminate the “luck” in the process. The analysis allows for faculty, students and library staff to explore options outside of their control.

Recommendations for Library Planners

During the transition from the old to new library space, the library planning committee should seek common ground. They should have conversations about the discovery process and explore the types of physical and virtual library services that will be in the building.

Without planning, “luck” is all we can expect from our work. It’s nice to have good intentions, but it is invaluable for stakeholders to have input. When the administration shares the need to explore a change in the library or learning space(s) start by determining the needs of the community, and look for ways to adapt technology. Outline the physical and virtual spaces required to enable your library community to succeed.