Date: September 3, 2010
Title: Embracing Change
Author: Mike Tennity
Source: American School & University (www.asumag.com)
American School & University is a great resource for interior designers and architects working in education facilities. I thought this was a great article for learning institutions beginning the process (or considering) a library renovation.
As the 20th century concluded, libraries were entering a new era.
As collections grew to include both print and digital resources, buildings changed. Library services also expanded. The public’s reliance on computers and electronic information increased library needs and raised user expectations. Connectivity and accessibility to the “information highway” soon became two key technologies critical to library services. Space, place and connectivity have made libraries especially amenable to support advances in learning.
In response to these shifts in learning throughout higher education, some campuses are making note-worthy efforts to transform their environments. They are creating physical spaces for their communities of learners. A growing number of institutions have paved the way in developing new models for library transformation. Many of these include experimental environments necessary for testing and developing the types of spaces that best support learning.
To replicate these effective transitions from a traditional library to a library of the future, libraries can do many things to position themselves as the foremost place where faculty and students interact, and also remain a site of experimentation regarding learning and space. For example, consider these recommendations:
•Conduct research. A great deal of experimentation in library transformation is underway at institutions such as Emory University, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative and Society for College and University Planning have developed a wealth of information about library revitalization.
•Gain consensus. The research, design and planning phases should include contributions from faculty, students, administration and personnel from library development, facilities and student development.
•Be visionary. Working with key stakeholders and benchmarking data, library planners should establish a vision statement to share with funding sources, library staff, faculty, students and others.
•Select a space and begin experimentation. Start small and try new approaches within specific library spaces. Take one area, try something new, learn from it, and move to the next.
•Establish a baseline and assess progress. Understanding how well existing space supports important aspects of student success is critical to evaluating future investments in change. Establish relevant metrics and measure with user-satisfaction surveys, number of visitors and users, etc.
With proper planning and vision, institutions can transform the traditional library into a dynamic space for learning, collaboration and creativity.