Category Archives: Spaces&Places

February 29, 2012, 7:09 pm

Looking for Landmark Academic Libraries

Library Journal invited me to serve on a panel reviewing “landmark” libraries. Here is the official link.

The core attributes include:

  • design and construction
  • response to campus context and constraints
  • sustainability
  • functionality
  • innovation
  • beauty and delight

This is for new academic library buildings or substantial renovations completed between 2007 and 2011. The deadline to submit is March 20, 2012. If you work in an amazing academic library or if you helped build one — please share it with us.

I have a lot to say about learning environments— but I’m holding off until this competition is over. Where Good Ideas Come From has totally changed the way I think about space, people, and context. I’ll leave it at that for now.

February 3, 2012, 6:01 pm

‘I Need Some Help Over Here!’

I’ve been talking with students about their preferred work/study spaces around campus. The Math Emporium, aka The Empo is one that gets mentioned often. In short: located in strip mall across from campus, bus service, dining and gym in the same complex, 500+ Macs, lots of software, open 24/7, and it has an app. Here is a good descriptive chapter via Educause.

 

The thing that struck me during the conversation is the assistance service model. Students who encounter a challenging math problem or who have software issues can place a red cup on top of their computer to indicate that they need help. A graduate student or instructor will then approach and provide assistance.

 

I instantly thought of Fogo de Chão, a great Brazilian restaurant in Buckhead, with tableside service. It works like this: You have a token beside your plate. Flip it to green and your table is swarmed…

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December 15, 2011, 7:55 pm

Student Study Space: the entrepreneurial model (my visit to TechPad)

I saw an ad in Virginia Tech’s sarcastic newspaper for TechPad, an office space located across the street from campus above a busy restaurant. This is how it’s described online:

An open co-working space with common areas for lounging and two conference rooms. Located above PK’s restaurant in Blacksburg, Virginia, is convenient to downtown shops, restaurants and Virginia Tech’s main campus. Over 10 companies currently work in TechPad.

Amenities include: dual wan broadband, month-to-month flexibility, printer/fax, wifi, 10% off PK’s, on-site mentoring, $3,000 of cloud hosting.

I was fascinated by this concept of a 24 hour, co-working, commons environment, which obviously has some library parallels. And if you know me, then you know that I’ve been obsessed with startup culture lately, so I had to go check it out. At VT we are in the initial stages of renovation planning and…

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December 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

LIBRARY ON LOCKDOWN: thoughts & observations from Virginia Tech

Note: this might be a good time for everyone to dust off their emergency planning protocol.

Yesterday was a wild, scary, sad day. My brother is a police officer in Florida so whenever stories like this happen it hits a sensitive spot. My sympathy to the Crouse family. It’s very quiet on campus this morning, but I’ve seen most students wearing VT clothing (it’s actually like that everyday) —so it’s good to see the school pride on display after what happened.

 

Reflecting on the events yesterday there were three distinct phases:

  1. The “Probably A False Alarm” aka Waiting Stage
  2. The “Oh, It’s Real, People Are Shot, Manhunt Is On” aka Chaos Stage
  3. The “Now What?” aka Quietly, Waiting, Wondering Stage

 

The campus buildings went on lockdown shortly after the officer was shot. Our staff responded efficiently and professionally securing the library…

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September 7, 2011, 7:10 pm

Just don’t call it a Commons: building the learning boutique model

Back in April I posted this on Twitter:

“Working on addition and renovation I am hoping to avoid using the term Commons– it’s a library, KISS! BTW, Commons is so last decade!”

Several people retweeted this so it seems like there is interest. Let me explain a bit of the back-story. A friend posted images on facebook of a library she visited that had just refurbished their Research Commons. In fact, this Commons 2.0 concept seems to be growing. Academic libraries that had developed these spaces five, six, or ten years ago are now rethinking them. This varies from simple refreshment of the furniture to totally redeveloping the concept.

What bothers me is the use of the term “commons” and how it caught on like wildfire. Over the last decade every modern library had to have a commons. Toss in the descriptor of your choice: information, learning, research, knowledge, scholarly,…

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July 27, 2011, 5:19 pm

What does your exterior say about you? Grabbing interest with some Street Art

The exterior of my library building is quite boring. Function triumphed form with each addition that was added over the years. My campus has some very intriguing architecture, but the library would be low on the list if there were an official ranking. Granted we’re attempting to change that very soon, but for now it is forgettable facade, despite being the tallest building on campus. I believe that this is common occurrence with many older buildings—we can all be envious of the newer structures that patrons find inspiring.

I was pondering this problem as I walked to a meeting across campus. What do each of the buildings say to me as I encounter them? What impression does the exterior of the library make on new students or visiting families? As they tour the campus or during the first week of the quarter when they are excited about classes and meeting new people – what is their…

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July 11, 2011, 5:38 pm

A Future Space For Reference Services? An Inspiration From GALE

Gale might be in the reference resources business, but after seeing their booth at ALA I’m thinking they should try their hand at reference assistance delivery space. I found their booth very inspiring—and they might just have the key to unlocking the “future of the reference desk.”

Here are a few images I snapped on my phone and I offer a conceptual drawing.


The Next-Gen Reference Experience
Imagine something like this. The space is branded somehow so that users know that this is the research help hub. A patron sits down at one of the couches, essentially inviting a librarian or library staff to approach him. The librarian hands the student a laptop/tablet and they get to work on the topic. When finished, the patron takes the laptop/tablet with him, after the librarian uses a wireless device to check it out. And/Or if the question is more involved or if the patron…

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May 24, 2011, 12:11 pm

ORGANIZING A DESIGN CHARRETTE: gathering a visual response for learning spaces (a packet)

We’re gearing up for a sizeable renovation and I’ve been trying to include students and faculty in on the interior design discussion. I’m planning a full post on the campaign later this summer—most likely after ALA—but in the meantime, I wanted to share this with others working on similar projects.

I’m a big fan of the design charrette activity. Having used it before, I definitely wanted to include it in my current efforts. It’s easy to conduct and students always seem to enjoy it as an outlet for creative expression. It’s also helpful to gather a visual response when talking about learning spaces.

This time around I wanted to conduct the charrette in a very public setting. I wanted everyone who entered the library to see it happening and to have the opportunity to participate—or at the very least to take s look at the renderings and other information that was…

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April 27, 2011, 11:53 am

Can you encourage people to recycle? Our attempt to switch behavior

This is a follow-up to my post Assessing Your Greenness: a serendipitous stroll toward sustainability.

Our campus recently conducted a waste stream audit in the library. Download UCSB_Library_Waste_Audit What it boils down to is that our patrons generate a lot of garbage.This gives you a sense of coffee cups alone:

Coffe_cups

It will be interesting to see what happens when we temporarily close our coffee operations during a long renovation. Obviously students will still bring coffee into the building, but I suspect they’ll consume less when the impulse to purchase is no longer right down the hall.

Waste_stream

 

The biggest takeaway from this experience is that students are not recycling– at least not as much as we expected. UCSB prides itself on sustainability and being eco-minded so I was anticipating higher numbers. What it boils down to is that 66% of our waste is recyclable, yet only…

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April 18, 2011, 9:43 am

Will Students Pay $14 Per Quarter for New Study Space… that’s not located in a library?

Today kicks off our campus election. I always love this process; it is the same everywhere: you have a group of super energized people who go out there rah rah rah, trying to reach a mass of apathetic people who have no idea what student government is or are cynical toward it.

I am particularly interested in one measure involving study space:

University Center (UCen) – Student Study Space Renovation and Support Fee.

In a nutshell they are asking students to pay $14 per quarter (for 27 years) in order to develop an underutilized area in the student center building. Here is what they are proposing:

  • Group study rooms
  • Computer labs
  • Study lounge
  • Power outlets for every seat
  • Scenic views
  • Longer hours

Here are some photos:

Study_loft1 Loft2 Loft3

Hmmm, looks pretty much like every renovation that academic libraries have been building over the past decade. If you substitute library

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