Designing Effective Library Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Volume 29

Cover of Designing Effective Library Learning Spaces in Higher Education

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Part I: Collaborative Learning Space


A university without an academic library is unimaginable since the library serves as a pivot for both learning and research. Freeman (2005), while talking about the importance of a library in academic life, stated that it holds a unique position, symbolizing the heart of the institution. A good library is not only one that stacks printed material or has portals to access online resources but also provides a flexible learning space with reading rooms, facilitates discussion and encourages collaborative learning and scholarship. With limited resources, it is increasingly difficult for universities to allocate funds to re-design library spaces. Modern academic libraries have to respond not only to pedagogical changes but also to technological changes, accommodating them in the library space design and management. Modern libraries are trying to integrate features of the traditional form of learning as well as the digital form. This book will present case studies and empirical evidence discussing the changing face of libraries. It will talk about re-modeling of existing libraries with the help of new architectural design to utilize the space and inculcate the digital literacy development. Scholars discuss, in the chapters, how they meet users’ needs and how they use in stakeholders’ inputs to design innovative library spaces.


The idea of active learning classrooms (ALCs) in post-secondary institutions across North America is not a new one and it continues to gain prominence (Davis, 2018; Ellern & Buchanan, 2018; Park & Choi, 2014). Research shows that these dynamic classrooms increased student comprehension of key concepts, problem-solving ability, improved attitude toward learning, and overall learning gains (Cotner, Loper, Walker, & Brooks, 2013; Park & Choi, 2014). Not surprisingly then, there has been a growing number of academic libraries which see the potential benefits and have incorporated ALCs, or elements of such, into their spaces (Ellern & Buchanan, 2018; Karasic, 2016; Soderdahl, 2011).

This chapter presents a case study on the 2017 redesign of a Canadian academic library, the Albert D. Cohen Management Library at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Once considered a “study hall,” the renovated business library has been transformed into a modern student learning space. The library is outfitted with a modular ALC equipped to accommodate the varied learning needs of the twenty-first-century students at the Asper School of Business. The author provides a detailed first-hand account of the ALC planning process, key partnerships, challenges, and post-launch reaction.


For the past several years, libraries have been evolving. The traditional academic library housed print collections and provided space for studying, usually quiet space. With the advances in technology, libraries have had their own metamorphosis. No longer are they constrained by a physical space – they now have virtual spaces, which include virtual collections.

During this same time, the cost of higher education and textbooks has been on the rise. Universities and the federal government have enacted policies and laws in an effort to combat these rising costs. In support of the students and affordable textbook initiatives, libraries have become partners in helping lower the cost of textbooks for students through either purchasing them electronically or other means, such as course reserves. Indeed, a single library purchase can now provide course materials for an entire class.

This chapter will present an overview of the Affordable Learning Georgia Initiative and how the Georgia Tech Library has updated their collection development policies to support this initiative.


In this chapter, the author examines Student2Scholar (S2S), an online e-learning resource for graduate students in the social sciences, as a case study that coalesces around effective learning design, innovation, and collaboration to meet and overcome the changes, challenges, and opportunities that have arisen in the twenty-first century. The author provides an overview of the S2S project, including an examination of the key design choices and pedagogy which were both strategic and critical in setting the foundation for effective learning in an online environment. This chapter also examines different elements of the project with a focus on the structure, purpose, and goals specific to a limited budget and a tight project timeline. A unique aspect of the project was the collaboration in and across three Canadian universities. The diverse project group of experts and important contributions by the team members played a significant role in creating a richer and more innovative product. These elements combined in such a way that led to the successful creation and launch of S2S, an award-winning e-learning resource.


The chapter summarizes and analyzes the use of User Experience (UX) methods applied to four university libraries – two American and two from the United Kingdom, concluding whether the use of the method may be considered a tool to enhance the user’s participation inside the informational spaces. The first section provides a definition of the term UX and its usage at university libraries. The second section introduces the four chosen international university libraries. Its subsections are divided in how the projects applying UX were performed in each school. The final section compiles and analyzes the results regarding the changes made through the usage of the UX methods inside the libraries and briefly mentions the lack of its presence in Brazil.


Technology is integral to contemporary life; where the digital transformation to virtual information accessibility impacts instruction, it alters the skills of learning and comprehension (Gonzalez-Patino & Esteban-Guitart, 2014; Lloyd, 2010). Although librarians/media specialists provide orientation, instruction, and research methods face-to-face and electronically, they recognize that digital learning instruction is not a linear process, and digital literacy (DL) is multi-disciplinary (Belshaw, 2012). Policy and public research findings indicate that higher education must be prepared to adapt to rapid changes in digital technology (Maybee, Bruce, Lupton, & Rebmann, 2017). Digital learning undergoes frequent transformations, with new disruptive innovation and research attempts at redefinition (Palfrey, 2015). Research often overlooks junior/community colleges. We are all learners and we need to understand the digital learning challenges that incorporating DL includes in the new digital ecology (Adams Becker et al., 2017). This study provides real faculty/librarian commentaries regarding the understanding needed to develop digital learning and contemporary digital library resources. The authors investigate faculties’ and librarians’ degree of DL perceptions with instruction at junior/community colleges. Survey data analysis uses the mean of digital self-efficacy of variables collected, revealing that participants surpassed Rogers’s (2003) chasm of 20% inclusion. Findings provided data to develop the Dimensions of Digital Learning rubric, a new evaluation tool that encourages faculty DL cross-training, librarians’ digital learning collaboration, and effective digital learning spaces.


This chapter explores the challenges and opportunities that teaching and learning in a synchronous online environment pose by examining information literacy (IL) provision at the Open University (OU), which will serve as a case study.

The OU provides distance education. While its flexibility offers more individuals an opportunity to start a course, it can be more challenging to ensure students develop their skills and knowledge and calls for innovative and engaging teaching methods.

The OU Library’s Live Engagement Team runs a program of digital information literacy (DIL) sessions. The team’s online pedagogy is built on retention and success and involves the careful planning, designing and delivering of DIL sessions, creating numerous interactive moments to increase teaching effectiveness.

The virtual enquiry desk allows students to consult library staff synchronously via the library helpdesk’s webchat service, which is delivered 24 hours a day. One of the advantages of this service is that students interact directly by having a dialogue with library staff in which they can ask further questions.

Both services carry out continuous reviews of the ways they operate, innovate and intervene. The chapter provides first-hand experiences of what has worked well in information literacy teaching in synchronous online spaces.

Part II: Effective Design


Area 49 is a group of specialized technology spaces in J. Murrey Atkins Library at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Since the launch of these spaces in 2018, librarians have worked with instructors in all disciplines to design unique experiences that support students’ academic success and lifelong learning. However, much of the success of these spaces is due to the extensive research and work that occurred during the planning, construction, and purchasing stages. While the spaces will continue to evolve based on research, emerging technologies, and use, it was this foundation that posed the spaces for success from the start.


Academic libraries have long been central to the campus ecosystem. From one-room collections housed in multi-functional buildings of the colonial college campus to the modern-day cathedrals where collections, patrons, and technologies collide, academic libraries have been a steadfast, yet flexible pillar of the higher education system. Employing a case study approach, this chapter reveals how one institution, the Ohio University Libraries (OUL), has reimagined the use of library space in response to twenty-first-century demands.

A visioning process undertaken by OUL culminated in a master plan intended to serve as a guide to space utilization and renovation strategies for nearly every floor of the seven-story facility. Beyond the master planning process, external demand for space within the library emerged organically. Given these two realities, OUL’s actions over the last decade have been guided by two main approaches to the use and redesign of space: (1) repurposing space for library-oriented initiatives and (2) co-locating complementary student support services within the library. Collectively, the examples highlighted in this chapter reveal how OUL has redesigned library space and continues to be an innovative environment in response to changing demands.


University spaces are being created without a clear understanding of what students want and how they use informal learning spaces. This research study was designed to examine the students’ study environments to determine what aspects of those spaces are important to students. It also discovered aspects that the students did not notice but were important if they were missing. This study’s design was a visual ethnography using participant-generated photographs and text. The theoretical framework for this study was Gibson’s Theory of Affordances, which assisted in identifying the perceived and ignored affordances of the space and environment.

Cover of Designing Effective Library Learning Spaces in Higher Education
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Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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