The Future of Library Space: Volume 36

Cover of The Future of Library Space

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xvi
Access restricted
Purpose

This chapter explores the recent trend in libraries: that of the establishment of spaces specifically set aside for creative work. The rise of these dedicated creative spaces is owed to a confluence of factors that happen to be finding their expression together in recent years. This chapter examines the history of these spaces and explores the factors that gave rise to them and will fuel them moving forward.

Methodology/approach

A viewpoint piece, this chapter combines historical research and historical/comparative analyses to examine the ways by which libraries have supported creative work in the past and how they may continue to do so into the 21st century.

Findings

The key threads brought together include a societal recognition of the value of creativity and related skills and attributes; the philosophies, values, and missions of libraries in both their long-standing forms and in recent evolutions; the rise of participatory culture as a result of inexpensive technologies; improved means to build community and share results of efforts; and library experience and historical practice in matters related to creativity. The chapter concludes with advice for those interested in the establishment of such spaces, grounding those reflections in the author’s experiences in developing a new creative space at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Originality/value

While a number of pieces have been written that discuss the practicalities of developing certain kinds of creative spaces, very little has been written that situates these spaces in larger social and library professional contexts; this chapter begins to fill that gap.

Access restricted
Purpose

The author of this chapter will explain how libraries define safe space through policies, procedures, and professional codes of ethics. The chapter will generate a history of the concept of libraries as safe space, will explain how libraries attempt to create safe spaces in physical and online environments, and will show how library practices both help and harm patrons in need of safe space.

Methodology/approach

This chapter provides a review of the literature that illustrates how libraries provide safe space – or not – for their patrons. The author will deconstruct the ALA Code of Ethics and Bill of Rights to demonstrate how libraries remain heteronormative institutions that do not recognize the existence of diverse patrons or employees, and how this phenomenon manifests in libraries.

Findings

Libraries, either through their physical construction or through policies and procedures, have become spaces for illegal activities and discrimination. Populations who would be most likely to use libraries often report barriers to access.

Practical implications

Libraries should revisit their policies and procedures, as well as assess their physical and online spaces, to determine whether or not they truly provide safe space for their patrons. While libraries can become safer spaces, they should clearly communicate what types of safety they actually provide.

Originality/value

This chapter offers a critique of libraries as safe spaces, which will challenge popular opinions of libraries, and compel the profession to improve.

Access restricted
Purpose

The aim of this chapter is to help library administrators understand the concept of Service Design, and to maintain that any consideration of the future of library spaces should begin with a service design focused approach.

Approach

The chapter is a combination of general review, literature review, case study, and conceptual paper. It focuses on describing the basics of the concept, highlighting essential resources for further understanding, highlighting service design specifically applied in libraries, and providing one case study of an academic library undergoing a master planning project utilizing the lens of Service Design. The chapter will conclude by emphasizing the importance of attaining an appropriate understanding and buy-in for the Service Design process by library administrators and staff in order for its effective implementation.

Practical implications

Practical implications to employing Service Design to library spaces are endless, and span that gamut from making smart decisions based on user input and evidence, to creating spaces and services that are relevant to library users. Employing a Service Design approach to library building projects helps administrators position themselves to advocate for needed technology and funding in the highly competitive resource arena. The ideas gleaned from this chapter can be applied in any library: academic, public, special, or school. The results will be different, because every library has a unique group of users, but the processes employed are the same.

Originality/value

Library literature related to Service Design is slim but slowly emerging. This chapter fills a gap in literature geared specifically to administrators as well as building design and redesign projects.

Access restricted
Purpose

Libraries can be seen as the collective identity of its employees engaged in providing a myriad of services to a community of patrons. Libraries can also exist in virtual settings, defined with descriptive parameters, described by a wider user group external to the library environment. The diverse nature of what constitutes libraries is illustrated by researchers, such as Marino and Lapintie (2015), who use the term “meta-meeting place” when describing its environs. Whatever model is used to describe contemporary libraries, the library environment usually has numerous needs and demands coming from a variety of stakeholders, from administrators to patrons. This chapter examines how we, as librarians, with users, co-construct library as both space and place.

Methodology/approach

We used a theoretical framework (social constructionism) to show how library identity is established by its users in the space planning process to address their needs and expectations and provided a case study of the main library at the University of South Florida.

Findings

We found that libraries are reflective of the vision and values of a diverse community and the social-political milieu in which they are housed. Librarians used a number of innovative methods and frames to create best/evidence-based practice approaches in space planning, re-envisioning library functions, and conducting outcomes/programmatic assessment. For librarians to create that sense of place and space for our users requires effective and open conversations and examination of our own inherent (and often unacknowledged) contradictions as to what libraries are or should be as enduring structures with evolving uses and changing users. For example, only a few of the studies focused on the spatial use and feel of libraries using new technologies or methodologies, such as social network analysis, discourse analysis, or GPS, to map the use of physical and virtual space.

Practical implications

First, new ways of working and engaging require reexamination of assessment and evaluation procedures and processes. To accomplish this, we must develop a more effective culture of assessment and to use innovative evaluation measures to determine use, user paths, and formal and informal groupings. Changes that affect patron and staff perceptions of library as place/third space may be difficult to assess using quantitative surveys, such as LibQual, that may not provide an opportunity for respondents to provide specifics of what “place” means to them. Second, it is important to have effective communication among all members of the library (patrons, library staff, and university administration) so that we design spaces/places that enhance the relationships among users, technology, pedagogy, and learning spaces, not just the latest “thing” in the literature.

Originality/value

This value of this review is to provide a social constructionist perspective (frame) on how we plan library space. This approach provides opportunities to truly engage our patrons and administration in the co-construction of what “our library” should be since it provides insight to group, place, and social dynamics.

Access restricted
Purpose

The use of high-density remote storage facilities helps alleviate competing space needs in academic medical libraries while they continue to support core services and supply service copies of resources.

Methodology/approach

Four academic medical libraries in the Texas A&M University System and the University of Texas System will highlight their participation in a regional collaborative storage facility using the Resource in Common (RIC) model.

Findings

Results will show how library services and facilities changed since moving some or all of print collections to JLF.

Originality/value

The RIC model has proven to be a success in recovering user space without losing access to resources.

Access restricted
Purpose

This chapter provides an overview of the space reimagining that has occurred in a mid-size library that serves both the life and social sciences at a large research university. Projects are introduced that have transformed physical and virtual spaces from preprogrammed areas and services designed to serve librarian-defined needs to an open and flexible architecture that better incorporates and facilitates the projects, ideas, and interest-driven learning initiated by users. As we move from “library as place” to “library as platform” (Bennett, 2003; Weinberger, 2012), the library becomes a central location for users to connect with and learn from one another, create and remix, display and discuss their work, and capture and preserve community knowledge.

Methodology/approach

The authors examine various initiatives in the library to demonstrate the role of library space. Each initiative is framed as a case study to illustrate how librarians have responded to user needs and the impact that these changes have had on management in libraries.

Findings

The change in focus to “library as platform” requires flexible and flat library management, additional staff roles, and changing paradigms of library space and skills.

Originality/value

This chapter adds to the body of case studies examining what the library of the future could look like in practice as well as theory.

Access restricted
Purpose

The purpose of this case study is to demonstrate how a liberal arts college library has reimagined its spaces in response to the changes in higher education, particularly integration of educational technology into research, teaching, and learning; changes in students’ information-seeking behaviors; and an increasingly important role of local special collections as a means to preserve and reinforce unique institutional identity.

Methodology/approach

This case study is built on the first-hand experience, as all contributors directly participated in each phase of the process, from formulating ideas to completion of the current stage.

Findings

Meaningful and high-impact space adjustments do not necessarily entail extensive budgetary investments. They do entail, however, developing comprehensive goals and directions and a level of collaboration among library departments and relevant academic units in order to deliver cohesive services, programming, and a creative, nimble response to the constantly changing needs of the patron.

Practical implications

We believe that these high-impact, cost-conscious improvements provide a useful model for other small academic libraries preparing to reconfigure or renovate their spaces. We offer a model for creating a dynamic, service-centered space on a limited budget.

Originality/value

The overwhelming majority of the literature related to library spaces focuses on large universities, and the treatment of space topics in small undergraduate colleges, and liberal arts colleges in particular, is strikingly negligent. This case study of a small liberal arts college will help fill the void by adding to the rare voices commenting on library spaces in liberal arts colleges.

Access restricted
Purpose

Merging library traffic from dispersed service points into a combined services desk is not new, and many reasons prompt this move. George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public research institution, combined a total of 10 service desks located in four libraries on three distributed campuses. To consolidate services and reduce costs, the Mason Libraries established a “one-stop” service point in each library. With the goal of “one-stop” service point in each facility, the Mason Libraries recrafted physical spaces, reviewed policies, procedures, and workflows as well as revised staff roles and responsibilities.

Methodology/approach

This chapter explores why institutions embark on redesigning the traditional library service desk; discusses how changing service needs impact desk space; and addresses the effect on public services personnel. Observations are based on highlights from the evolution of George Mason University Libraries’ goal of a “one-stop” service point in each library to provide more efficient and consistent user-focused interactions and services.

Findings

As a manager of one of the facilities, the author provides insights on achieving a “one-stop” service point.

Originality/value

This chapter considers library staff needs, in concert with internal effort to not only refine user services influencing changes, but also revisit policies, procedures, and workflows to align staff roles and responsibilities. Mason Libraries is one of a few university library systems trying to implement single service points in all libraries.

Access restricted
Purpose

This chapter looks at the principal use of a library as a place of quiet contemplation in contrast to the recent push for interactive environments and makerspaces, with particular focus on the centrality of library users’ needs in designing services and spaces.

Methodology/approach

This chapter draws on the results of primary survey data, and considers user needs as more important to successful educational support rather than contemporary trends that might lean toward other directions.

Findings

It is found that students at Stockton University desire more space for quiet study and, when library quiet spaces are expanded, they have flocked to these zones. The students are sending out their own SOS – they are “Seeking Out Silence” within the walls of the library.

Originality/value

This chapter provides a look at user-centered design as applied to the fundamental needs of library patrons. It reminds library professionals to stay focused on user needs regardless of entrenched tradition. It also provides insight into student behaviors and the nature of library as place.

Access restricted
Purpose

This chapter discusses the Learning Theater, a flexible library space that permits substantial patron involvement in designing dynamic environments to meet diverse learning goals.

Methodology/approach

We use a case study method to describe and discuss the Learning Theater.

Findings

We found that many challenges associated with designing and building a radically different library space to support patron learning goals can be resolved by eliciting patron input in all phases of the process.

Practical implications

We offer three lessons for other libraries intent on developing dramatically new kinds of library spaces: engage the community of users early and throughout, new spaces require robust communications to convey the possible set of uses to the community, and a flexible infrastructure and a responsive staff are key to meeting demands for unanticipated uses.

Originality/value

Our experience in developing the Learning Theater as part of the library education program suggests that libraries can share greater control of new flexible facilities and partner in the creation of intellectual properties to make best use of those facilities in more powerful ways than has typically been done in the past.

Access restricted
Purpose

To report on the process of redesigning a previously inaccessible room in the center of Emerson College’s Iwasaki Library for student use.

Methodology/approach

Library staff solicited input from multiple stakeholders through informal suggestion boards; conversations with staff and faculty; a 3-hour Participatory Design Workshop (PDW) with students, both undergraduates and graduates from multiple departments; and a month-long collaboration with a Business Studies class. A particular emphasis was placed on student input in the design process because of their status as the library’s primary users.

Findings

It was not possible to incorporate all of the students’ suggestions into the final design: particularly the requests for a homey, “living room” feel. However, through repeated inquiry, the library was able to find a match between some of the things students wanted and what the library could provide, namely a flexible event and study space.

Originality/value

Although libraries do not often have the opportunity to “expand” with their existing footprints, this chapter will be of use to other libraries planning an expansion or renovation. Library expansion is often dependent on well-documented need and student voices can have a high impact and, therefore, should play a critical role in the design process.

Access restricted
Purpose

Library spaces are being reimagined to better fit the needs of today’s and future users. At the Georgia Tech Library, a new library space, currently called the “Library Store,” is being developed as part of the “Library Next” initiative. How can this space best attract users and how can it work to intuit their needs to offer more seamless services? Careful planning and dedicated participation on the part of library management and library staff have set into motion a design for a new space that will meet user needs immediately and will be flexible enough to respond to their ever-changing use patterns.

Methodology/approach

This chapter explores the relationship between staff needs, user needs, and institutional needs when tasked with creating a library space and services in the 21st century academic library. It explores the development of the “Library Store” as a case study to shed light on the ways in which academic libraries can adapt to the research and learning needs of their users.

Findings

The authors provide insight into the complexities of leveraging existing staff skills in order to offer new user services in a space that boasts a new and updated design. They also detail the lessons learned from the initial planning stages of the new space and services.

Originality/value

This chapter considers user and library staff needs from a management perspective when planning a redesign of space and services. This library is one of only a few that has embarked on this specific model of space and service reimagining.

Access restricted
Purpose

This chapter introduces Building Back Better Libraries (BBBL) as a critical concept for improved library planning both prior to and following a disaster or other emergency. Building Back Better, an idea widely discussed in the disaster recovery literature, seeks to use the difficulty of a disaster as an opportunity to go beyond the status quo and to promote changes that result in stronger, more resilient communities. The authors will define BBB elements and frameworks, building upon those to create a model for library disaster planning and recovery, and applying it to cases involving space and facilities, collections, services, and people.

Methodology/approach

Literature on the Building Back Better concept and frameworks, as well as library emergency response, was reviewed. This source material was used to develop a modified framework for improved library disaster planning and recovery. The Building Back Better Libraries framework is discussed and applied to cases involving library facilities and spaces, collections, and services, and its implementation through a disaster planning team is reviewed.

Findings

Though all libraries hope to avoid disaster, few succeed. One survey found that as many as 75% of academic library respondents had experienced a disaster or emergency. Evidence also suggests that few libraries are prepared, with as many as 66–80% of libraries reporting that they have no emergency plan with staff trained to carry it out. Even when plans are in place, the rush to respond to immediate needs following a disaster can overwhelm the ability to pursue effective long-term planning. Building Back Better, when framed for libraries, provides a planning tool to balance short-term response with long-term recovery and resilience. The Building Back Better Libraries framework focuses on the areas of risk assessment for library collections and spaces; recovery and rejuvenation for facilities, collections, and services; and implementation and monitoring, with particular discussion of the human element and the role of a library disaster planning team.

Practical implications

The proposed framework, Building Back Better Libraries (BBBL), can be used to strengthen disaster planning in a manner that balances meeting immediate needs with implementing longer term plans to create stronger and more resilient libraries.

Originality/value

Although aspects of BBB ideas are present in existing library literature, the concept is not formally defined for the library context.

Access restricted
Purpose

Library space and services should center on library patrons and what they need. Trying to match the needs of each patron can become a daunting task. A new approach needs to be taken – one that describes patrons and their needs in a useful way. Using an approach from marketing and product design, personas or user groups offer a unique approach to thinking and describing patron needs to assist in the identification and design of library space and services.

Methodology/approach

The identification, development, and validation of personas employs an iterative process using both qualitative and quantitative methods to first identify user patterns, then develop the patterns into meaningful descriptions, and finally to validate the personas. Once validated, additional data is collected, and, as librarians become persona-minded, the persona descriptions continue to be enriched.

Findings

The chapter provides a description of personas found in one academic library and how those personas were developed before being used to assist in library space identification and development. One unique feature of our personas was the fluid nature where patrons would shift personas depending on personal needs.

Practical implications

Personas are a practical and meaningful tool for thinking about library space and service design in the development stage. Several examples of library spaces that focus on the needs of specific personas are provided.

Access restricted

About the Authors

Pages 359-367
Access restricted
Cover of The Future of Library Space
DOI
10.1108/S0732-0671201736
Publication date
2016-12-15
Book series
Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-270-5
Book series ISSN
0732-0671