Category Archives: Spaces&Places

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.


Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 15, 2015, 8:46 pm

Leaning Circulation. Kaizen with John Borwick.

Lean Startup had a strong influence on me. I had wanted to blog more about lean principles across library organizations, but that didn’t work out.

I’ve benefitted from some conversations with John Borwick (Director of IT Services at Virginia Tech Libraries) who is well versed in continuous improvement and project management. His blog explores how IT can effectively deliver more value while minimizing waste.

John approached my team about conducting a lean activity and examining some of our processes. Here are some notes:

Why Circulation?

John wanted to explore the laptop check-in, check-out process. A lot of people care about this service. It is valuable to patrons. The laptops are always in demand so there seems to be a sense of urgency to improve.

On one side it seems like an IT Services matter since it involved computers. But circulation views it as a workflow…

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July 15, 2015, 2:45 am

ENCODING SPACES: Shaping environments that unlock human potential (coming fall 2015)


Leigh Ann Soistmann

I have a project that has been in the works for a number of years. It’s 95% written and around 15,000 words or about 50 pages. It contains everything I want to say about libraries as physical spaces.

There is something for everyone in it. Big philosophical questions and practical design tips. It touches on concepts like harmony, balance, and rhythm. There’s choice architecture and decision interfaces.  Ambience and atmospheric audits. Priming, congruence, visual cues, impulse design, and neural wi-fi. It’s sort of like interior design crossed with social psychology and neuroscience with a heavy heap of retail principles and experiential design.

I explore four different “future” models for libraries: Showrooms, Studios, Boutiques, and Salons.

And I also propose four…

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July 14, 2015, 1:15 pm

Researcher-In-Residence in the Library

We’re kicking off a residency program next month.  Here is the gist:

The Researcher-In-Residence Program at the Virginia Tech Libraries aims to provide faculty, researchers, and designers with the opportunity to focus on a unique academic endeavor of their choosing in a supportive environment that includes interacting with the information and data professionals of the Libraries.

This annual residency is for visiting scholars, post-docs, or faculty on sabbatical whose work explores the application of data and information for technological advancement or human progress.

This Program is designed to:

  • Encourage and support applied interdisciplinary research across several areas including data curation, analysis, and visualization, digital libraries, publishing, literacies, instructional design, virtual communities, and learning environments.
  • Foster collaboration between librarians…

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July 12, 2015, 8:54 pm

The Library Renewal @ Georgia Tech. Interview with Ameet Doshi

I started this blog when I worked at Georgia Tech so perhaps it is fitting that one of my final posts is about that library.

Here is an interview with Ameet Doshi, Director, Service Experience & Program Design. He talks about moving the collection off-campus and the new types of spaces and services they are developing. It’s a very ambitious plan and I would expect nothing less from that library.

Here is a snippet from their white paper that sets up the transformation:

A majority of the Library’s physical collection — the very core of all preconceived notions of what a research library is and how librarians serve — is leaving the Georgia Tech Library space. Even without these books, we are still a research library.

And here is a promo video that outlines the concept:

Tell me about the renewal. What’s the goal?

AD: The goal is to become…

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July 12, 2015, 6:45 pm

The Library Research Building

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the dedicated Research Library — UCLA has a nice one. My dean and I have been soft pitching a new variation, which we call the Library Research Building.

Hunt Library’s Creativity Studio, a high-tech “white box” space that runs the most advanced version of the Navy’s Mariner Skills Simulator.

The idea came to me when visiting Hunt Library and seeing the Naval simulator space along with the Institute for Emerging Issues.

What if we could develop building focused on spaces and services for researchers? Just as you can check out a book or a laptop – what if you could check out a workspace for you and your team (center, institute, lab, etc) for an extended period of time?

We imagine that the majority of such a building would be designated for limited-term grant project…

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July 12, 2015, 4:51 pm

Interdisciplinary Studios — incubation space for semester long projects

Burchard Hall, Virginia Tech

I’ve always been inspired by architecture studios on campus. There is an unmatched sense of camaraderie that develops by spending a lot of time working together in a shared space. I’ve seen variations of this, mostly for graduate students, where people have assigned desks, tables, or cubicles together often near labs or other work areas. Most undergrads, however, don’t have this available to them.

Obviously anyone can come into the library and work on assignments—but it’s temporary or ephemeral.  Libraries offer a host of labs, studios, and commons areas but you go there, work a bit, and then leave.

What if we could take the architecture studio concept (a dedicated spot for a whole semester) and open that to a variety of disciplines?

We’re going to try it in January.


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July 12, 2015, 12:43 pm

Inspiring Work: putting student output on a large monitor


I mentioned in an earlier post that we are framing our library commons as a showroom of knowledge. We curate an assortment of student output (every discipline in any format) and spread it across the library. We constantly refresh the content and aim to make it interactive when possible.

This actually begins as soon as people enter the building. Last fall we installed a 120-inch display in our lobby. It is four screens so we can put up one big image or four separate ones.  We can display any type of multimedia from videos and simulations, to graphics, text, and web content.

The aim is for people to feel uplifted as they enter the library. People build their ideas here. I want to prime you for a scholarly experience.

We’re working on a process now for self-submittal. We’re also talking with a number of instructors on how they could package course assignments thematically.

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July 12, 2015, 12:18 pm

Building Knowledge Together: Interactive Course Exhibits as Project-Based Learning


A program I’m proud of at Virginia Tech is something we call Course Exhibits. The philosophy behind it is that there are all these great conversations happening behind the closed doors of the classroom—what if we could make that public?

We provide a visible space in the library and offer a wide variety of components: digital screens, display cases, projection, large format printing, etc. We can also do a lot of customized work such as wood structures, 3D printed items, and fabric. On top of that we also provide technical and design support.


A number of faculty have taken us up on this and each time we improve. But it’s definitely not an easy sell. “Build an interactive exhibit” is intimidating if you’re not in a design major. I’ve encountered a handful of professors who like the concept but are concerned about student pushback. As we do more of these I’m hopefully…

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July 10, 2015, 2:03 pm

Two UX Tables

Final few days around here–  blog ends Wednesday (July 15)

I wanted to share two tables from a talk I gave with Steven Bell and Paul Zenke at ACRL 2013.

Experience is Everything: Making the Case for Moving Beyond Usability to Totality

This first one was assembled by Paul who is now the Director of Academic Technology in the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford. The term “user experience” was being used to mean a lot of different things and so we tried to shape the context a little.


Paul Zenke, 2013

And Marie Mosman – Project Designer at FOX Architects, assembled this one. She was an architecture student at Virginia Tech when we worked together. I’ve often heard people talk about individual work and group work — we aimed to challenge that a bit and tried to…

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