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Library Spaces

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

Project Teams

Project Descriptions

Pilot Project: UC Davis

Re-establish Medical Sciences 1B, including the Carlson Health Sciences Library, as an academic core facility for users across the Health Sciences District. The purpose would be to extend academic support and infrastructure beyond what the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Medicine, and the Library could or should provide individually. Key elements of the core facility would include shared 1) spaces such as auditoria, classrooms, and videoconference suites, 2) technologies to support collaborative work and the creation, editing, and management of media and content, and 3) expertise in domains such as data science and data management, research computing, statistical methods and analysis, and information management.

Med Sci 1B comprises 50,471 total square feet on two levels. CHSL is assigned the entirety of the lower level’s 25,157 square feet and 16,545 of the main level’s 25,314 square feet, for a total of 41,702 square feet. Med Sci 1B overall and CHSL specifically are an ample footprint for such a shared academic core facility, particularly as the extent of current collections shelving in the library can be reduced. The Library would readily provide centralized administration, management, and support. This report concludes with several options comprising varying degrees of transformation and intensity (difficulty, cost, or time) regarding activating Med Sci 1B and CHSL as an academic core facility.

Pilot Project: University of Florida

Between 2014 and 2017, Marston Science Library (MSL) of the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries renovated three of five floors, creating new public spaces that include collaboration spaces, a visualization conference room with specialized visualization tools that serve GIS and Informatics, quiet study areas, a Virtual Reality (VR) Lab, and a makerspace that supports all disciplines. MSL annually hosts hackathons and other student events, such as events related to the VR for Social Good course, as well as Girls Tech Camp, a middle school technology camp designed to facilitate creative thinking and problem solving. The renovations have increased building occupancy to more than two million visitors each year, a dramatic increase in overall visitors from previous years. Despite these successes, MSL has renovated spaces with very little strategic planning involved, and the Smathers Librarians are interested in better understanding how these successes support innovative, interdisciplinary research as well as promote creative thinking and problem solving in the student population.

In 2015, UF’s Design, Construction and Planning (DCP) unit was awarded Transform Grant funding by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) to conduct research that educates the design profession on research methods and research findings to advance the interior design profession. This research study proposed “Mixed-Use Learning Environments Typology” that included a student survey, behavior mapping, and stakeholder interviews. MSL draws and builds upon this typology and findings for this ARL Library Impact Pilot.

MSL will explore a libraries’ ability to support problem-solving, creativity, and innovation. To support these iterative design processes, we hope to maximize choice and control and avoid prescriptive space design. Libraries need to provide a mix of private and public space, as well as independent (“I” space) and collaborative (“we”) space with an emphasis on providing the tools for exploration. Libraries long considered private/I and public/we as the same, but interior design research shares the idea that spaces can support independent work within public settings or collaborative work in private settings. We will explore these dichotomies within the context of both the library space as-a-holistic ecosystem, but also specifically within the context of makerspaces.

Ultimately, quantitative assessments (seat counts, occupancy counts, behavior mapping, etc.) tell us how many students are studying and what spaces they are using, but these approaches fail to measure the quality of a learning study environment. MSL and DCP will implement a 1) mixed-method study that includes a full spatial analysis that looks at the quantity of space allocated for each of the four dimensions (group vs individual and public vs private) to identify building capabilities, 2) a student self-assessment in terms of existing space and in terms of ideal space needs as related to creativity, and 3) an intercept survey and focus groups utilizing findings from the first two studies and a student survey to identify real-world use cases related to problem-solving, creativity, and innovation. We will record their interviews and evaluate/code looking for important themes.

Pilot Project: Iowa State University

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

As the ISU library makes the case for additional phases of the renovation plan in the coming years, it will be important to show evidence of the impact of existing library spaces. In support of this need, the library assessment plan will need to include measures designed to assess the impact library spaces are having in support of student achievement and research on the Iowa State University campus.

One emerging library space assessment tool the ISU Library is already using is the ACRL Project Outcome Library Space Assessment. ACRL’s Project Outcome provides an online toolkit designed to help libraries understand and share the impact of essential library programs and services by providing simple surveys and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes. Participating libraries are also provided with the resources and training support needed to apply their results and confidently advocate for their library’s future. Project Outcome’s standardized surveys allow libraries to aggregate their outcome data and analyze trends by service topic, program type, and over time. Academic libraries can use Project Outcome reports to see how the outcomes of their programs and services compare across their institution, Carnegie Class, and nation.

While many libraries, including the ISU Library, collect data about their programs and services, what is often lacking are outcomes data to indicate the benefits libraries provide to student success and other institutional goals. Measuring outcomes can provide libraries with new ways to demonstrate their effectiveness beyond gate counts and anecdotal success stories. Project Outcome is designed to give libraries simple tools and supportive resources to help “turn better data into better libraries”.

The Project Outcome toolkit provides seven surveys designed to help libraries measure outcomes and assess their impact in seven key service focus areas: digital and special collections, instruction, space, events/programs, teaching support, library technology, and research. Project Outcome helps libraries easily measure their patron outcomes, which are one piece of the assessment puzzle. Measuring outcomes helps libraries understand the benefits that result from their services or programs. They answer the question: “What good did we do?” The Iowa State University library has already begun the process of submitting data to the Project Outcome database for the “space” focus area. For our ARL Library Impact practice brief, the ISU project intends to continue to collect, contribute, and analyze space related outcome data, using the Project Outcome data dashboard. ISU is also interested in seeing if other ARL impact projects might consider using Project Outcome tools and resources to collect and contribute space related data to the Project Outcome database. Supporting other ARL involvement in Project Outcome will benefit ISU assessment efforts, as the usefulness of the Project Outcome data grows as the base of contributing libraries expand.

Pilot Project: Syracuse University

Syracuse University Libraries’ ARL Research Library Impact Framework Initiative Research Team is looking into the impact of targeted academic learning communities located in academic library spaces. The team is investigating impact broadly, from the impact of targeted 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 targeted 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.

Pilot Project: Johns Hopkins University

The Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) proposes a pilot project that will envision a novel model for library as a space that expands its impact to encompass a more holistic research, learning, thinking, and reflecting experience. By studying the impact of digital spaces and physical collections on largely unexplored yet critical goals such as student wellness and object-based learning, this pilot project will initiate a longer-term research and implementation program with profound implications for all research libraries. The fundamental premise of this proposed pilot project is that library spaces should incorporate and advance a nascent and evolving understanding of how people experience both physical and digital realms based on psychology, brain science, visualization and public humanities. This holistic approach represents an important complement to more familiar approaches to library spaces based on aesthetics, functionality, and traditional modes of study.

During this pilot phase, we will focus on two main points of research: Student Wellness and Public Humanities/Object-Based Learning.

Practice Brief: Temple University

In addressing this question, we chose to focus on the “people” aspect of library spaces that support learning. We ask ourselves how library staff here at Temple Libraries are preparing for the dramatic changes ahead in terms of how they work with students, faculty, and community in new types of learning spaces. We attempt to address the important question that Atheneum21’s report claims—that success in the implementation of new technologies is about the people and culture, not the technologies themselves.

Like all institutions for higher education, Temple University and its Libraries are also strategizing about the digital future, a plan of particular importance as the Libraries opens the new Charles Library on its main campus in August 2019. Atheneum21’s recent Digital Strategies Report provides an overview of elements contributing to successful implementation of digital strategies in organizations. They claim that the “ majority of the success or failure hinges on people and culture not on technology.“ This research project focuses on the people and culture part of that process, serving as organizational self-reflection, pre-move benchmark, and research designed to support staff participation and action-oriented assessment.

The research questions have both local and broad relevance to the library community. The move to Charles Library will entail an entirely new approach to collection discovery and access, with an ASRS “BookBot” housing the majority of our research collection and not available through open stacks. Staff will be working in more open office environments requiring changes to how we communicate, collaborate, and use our spaces for work.

Affiliates