Home > Libraries > 5 Thoughts about the Applecart: #2 – User Spaces

5 Thoughts about the Applecart: #2 – User Spaces

June 11, 2010

In my last post I explained how I have been pondering some transformative thoughts about my library. In that post I introduced my first area of concern: the concept of the office. Today I move on to the second issue on my mind which involves the library facility:

Thought #2: How can we redesign/repurpose/redefine the user spaces in our library?

The concept is not new. The originality for me is the degree to which we might be willing to change in our particular setting to create better user spaces. Yes, finding ways to rearrange furniture is part of the thought process, but it is much more than that. Over the past school year, I found myself asking questions like:

  • How do we perceive spaces like Reference, Current Periodicals, and Study Area? How do our users perceive them? Are they using those spaces for the designed purposes (which we dreamed up) or for things entirely different?
  • Are we using too much library lingo? Does that freshman understand what a current periodical is? Are our traditional labels (reference area, media room) meaningful or meaningless?
  • How can we broaden our concept of library space to include the virtual? Top on the list: We must be more intentional in considering as a key user space the library’s web presence (translation: website). As David Lee King has said, the library website is one of the front doors to the library. (This one has been especially hard to swallow because I know it is true. We are working on some drastic changes in this area, but we are not there yet.)
  • How can we more seamlessly weave the physical (all things print, furniture, equipment, etc.) with the virtual (ebooks, online journals, full-text databases, wifi, etc.)? The point? A focus on access rather than format. Example: Finding a way to maintain a visible, browsable presence for online journal, magazine, and newspaper subscriptions alongside print titles in the current periodicals area.
  • Are we pigeonholing our spaces? Can we make user spaces (which, after all, are at a premium in our building) more ubiquitous for the sake of economy and better utilization? The area most on my mind in this regard? Reference.

Library users: What kind of spaces would you like to see the library providing?

Pic credit: valentiapowers



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  1. June 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    In our library we have intershelved reference to free up a whole section. With more and more students turning to online/digital sources, it made sense to free up the space. I’m wondering what you think of intershelving reference in your situation?

    • June 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      I have actually been considering this very thing. I mean, why not? It seems to be a great way to reduce the size of the reference collection while keeping available some useful but infrequently-used books by moving them to the circulating collection. There is a good article on this at http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6669020.html

      Great suggestion! Thanks for sharing.

  1. June 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm
  2. June 12, 2010 at 4:21 am
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