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Library Space Planning:

How does the future affect it?


By Heather Walsh
LIS 779

The big question being asked of libraries, as of late, is how does the library space reflect the changing needs of its patrons? This is a valid question and concern, as the needs of patrons are growing and changing. Libraries now need to prove their worth and one major way in doing that is constructing library spaces that meet and or exceed the needs of their patrons. Library space has to go beyond the storage of books and few study spaces and the idea that all areas of the library have to be completely quite, needs to be dashed. Library spaces of today need to have room for collaborative working. ew theories in education as well as taking into consideration different

learning types, suggest that collaborative learning spaces are greatly needed. Library patrons also want to have easy access to many types of materials. !ust like a customer in a store, library patrons do not want to have to jump from desk to desk to access the materials they need. "erging different types of media into one centrali#ed location will help improve this area of the library. $ith the merging of different types of media in mind, the integration of new and emerging technologies is another facet that needs to be taken into consideration when planning a library space. $here else will many patrons be able to access so many different technologies in one area. The library has to be careful and not create spaces that are too specified for certain technologies as technology is ever changing but they also need to create spaces that can grow and change with the times. %reating spaces that allow for emerging technologies also ties back into having spaces for collaborative learning. Libraries, especially academic libraries

need to be seen by their community as learning laboratories. &lexible spaces, with the latest technology and the space for learning that allows patrons to have access and explore information and technology they would not be able to see outside of the library. ow looking at library space with collaborative learning spaces in mind and housing new and emerging technologies, what about libraries becoming a 'third place(, a place where patrons want to come and unwind, somewhere other than their home or dorm room. )n *chool Libraries as a 'Third +lace(, !ohnson, mentions that a 'third place( must have a fun atmosphere and be the heart of a community,s vitality. ow the article focuses on school libraries but the concepts

can be used for all types of libraries. Libraries need to become the heart of the education enterprise. The question is how can they do this? Libraries need to create flexible spaces. They should do away with the idea of having too many solid walls on the inside. "eaning what works great for a location of a study room now, my not work so well twenty years from now. This problem can be dealt with by using more partition walls. These can be easily moved and broken down. )t will allow libraries to expand existing rooms to allow more occupants as well as rearrange the entire inside of the library if need be. Libraries need comfortable furniture, for those patrons that are hunkering down to read a good book or to do some serious studying. They need to create spaces that the patron coming in alone is going to feel comfortable staying in and is going to invite patrons to stay awhile. The fact of the matter is the library needs

to focus on not just one type of patron but all possible types of patrons and try and draw them in. -s stated in Library as a +lace, .ethinking .oles, .ethinking *pace, /0owever, we must not design space that is so generic or anonymous that it lacks the distinctive quality that should be expected for such an important building. The charge to architects is to create libraries that, themselves, learn. 1ne key concept is that the library as a place must be self2organi#ing3that is, sufficiently flexible to meet changing space needs. *ound adjacency needs to be taken into consideration when building library space. ow that there are more

collaborative learning spaces, there needs to be some thought for those patrons that require quiet and reflective learning. The best way for libraries to create a distinctive space, while allowing for the space to grow and change is by creating interesting atmosphere. %hoose unique and interesting furniture and interesting stacks. &or instance take orth %arolina 4niversity,s new engineering library

and how the stacks are in the center of the room and in an s shape. This bring distinction and interest into the room but still allows the room to grow and change with the library.

Libraries need to focus less on how to house their print collection and more on how to make the spaces useful to the patrons. Librarians need to stop thinking about what makes sense to them about a space and what makes sense to the patron. $ith the ever growing world of digital collections, many patrons are looking for their library to have ample material and access to collections that

are digiti#ed. $ith this being said, that does not mean the library should not have a monograph collection at all, libraries need to walk the fine line of a well2 balanced digital collection and monograph collection. 5oes it make more sense to carry digital reference materials? $ith academia changing all the time and new research ever present, having access to online journals that update more readily than a print journal makes sense. Library as a space is not just about the physical space, it is about the idea of the space. $hat about the feeling one gets from being in a room filled with books? That feeling, that one is smarter just being in the presence of such vast knowledge. %reating open spaces, with low book shelves, will allow patrons the opportunity to peruse books as well as be in an area where education and knowledge is free flowing. +atrons do not just come to the library for the availability to books. &rom the *tacks to the $eb, made a great comment on how academic libraries should be viewing their digital and monograph collections, ')f academic libraries are to be successful, they will need to6 deconstruct legacy print collections7 move from item2by2item book selection to purchase2on2demand and subscriptions7 manage the transition to open access journals7 focus on curating unique items7 and develop new mechanisms for funding national infrastructure.( -t academic libraries, future monograph collections should have a larger focus on their special collections. "any of these special collections are driven by the course study at their universities. The uniqueness of these collections can only

be appreciated in person. These collections are also tending to be smaller, leaving the majority of the library space open for interpretation. &lexible to meet changing space needs. *ound adjacency needs to be taken into consideration when building library space. ow that there are more collaborative

learning spaces, there needs to be some thought for those patrons that require quiet and reflective learning. Libraries more than ever need to be more conscious about budget. 8uilding library spaces with ample natural light is a great cost savings. These buildings will require less electricity and thus cutting the cost for the library. 1ne way Loyola 4niversity,s library saved money was with the information commons. The information commons does not check out books but checks out technology, such as lap tops. )n turn this saves money on the monograph collection and meets the demand for new and emerging technologies. There are many ways that the modern library space is reflected in the new goals and interests of the modern library. -daptability and flexibility is what librarianship is all about. $e as librarians need to learn how to reflect that in our future library space design.

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