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Research Library Impact Framework Initiative and Pilots: Library Spaces

Research question: (How) do library spaces facilitate innovative research, creative thinking, and problem-solving?

Project Teams

Project Descriptions

Pilot Project: University of Florida

The Marston Science Library (MSL) of the University of Florida (UF) George A. Smathers Libraries partnered with the UF Department of Interior Design (IND) to explore how research libraries facilitate innovation, creativity, and problem-solving competencies among their patrons. The MSL-IND team explored a three-tiered hypothesis that included: (1) students’ use of library spaces can contribute to building knowledge and practical applications for library space renovations; (2) student perceptions of space desirability as measured by the Place-based Semantic Differential can be used to indicate gaps in the library space facilitation of creativity; and (3) the creative thought process requires spaces that are diverse, flexible, and under a certain amount of student control. The research team developed a mixed-method study that included a spatial analysis, a survey utilizing an adjective checklist, and several focus groups designed to validate the adjective checklist. The research team analysis of the resulting data identified recommendations related to creating a sense of place, solving for the group by addressing the individual, offering a palette of posture, increasing biophilia, and offering choice and control. Read the report.


University of Florida slides

Practice Brief: Iowa State University

The Iowa State University (ISU) Library developed a six phase, $90 million renovation plan. Phase 1 of the plan was accomplished in the fall of 2019, including  renovations to the main entrance area as well as all restrooms throughout the Parks Library building. Additional phases of the plan will be contingent on obtaining project funding.

The ISU research project was based on the use of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Project Outcome for Academic Libraries survey tool. In the ISU project, data was collected and analyzed using the Project Outcome spaces survey, once every semester, from the fall of 2018 through the fall of 2021. The ISU project was designed to identify benefits of the Project Outcome survey through the hands-on use of the Project Outcome toolkit and to share those findings. This practice brief also provides information on how to use Project Outcome. A goal of the project was to support and encourage other ARL libraries in their own use of the Project Outcome resources. 


Iowa State University slides

Pilot Project: Syracuse University

Syracuse University Libraries’ ARL Research Library Impact Framework Initiative Research Team explored the impact of distinct academic learning communities located in academic library spaces. The team investigated impact broadly, from the impact of distinct academic learning communities on members of those particular communities, to the impact the academic library may have on the communities in its midst, as well as how the communities themselves may impact the academic library’s ecosystem.

A distinct academic learning community contributes to academic success by supporting individual growth through the development of research and/or study skills. The community also encourages members to take part in at least one of the following: innovative research, creative thinking, problem solving. Fostering and building an engaged community is an important attribute or goal of the community. Community members self-select, and participation is not limited by the academic discipline affiliation of potential participants.


Syracuse University slides

Practice Brief: Temple University

This practice brief describes research conducted by staff at Temple University Libraries as part of the libraries’ participation in ARL’s Research Library Impact Framework initiative to address the question of “how library spaces facilitate innovative research, creative thinking, and problem-solving.” This research focused on how changes in library space impact the work of staff as individuals, when working with colleagues, and in their work with users. The researchers asked how staff are supported as they make changes in space and how users are supported in that space. Temple had a unique opportunity to explore these questions when they opened the new Charles Library in August 2019; the researchers interviewed staff before and after the move.


Temple University Slides