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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spaces That Inspire: Gathering the Data and Acting on What our Students Tell Us About the Library as Place

Where: Four Points Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center
1125 Boston Providence Turnpike
Norwood, Massachusetts

When:9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Note: Registration begins at 7:30am

Workshop Organizer: Susanna Cowan of University of Connecticut

It’s a space challenge!
No, not sputnik. A library space challenge.

What, exactly, is library “space that inspires study and learning”? LibQUAL+ asks users to rate just that, without providing the data to clarify what such “inspiring” spaces look like to our users. Whether we get feedback from LibQUAL or some other instrument that we need to improve our spaces, or want to make sure we’re still heading in the right direction, we need some tools to help us identify the characteristics of ideal spaces from our users’ points of view. One student’s dream space might be a soundproof box with dim lights, whereas another’s might look more like a corner in their favorite coffee shop. How do we find out, and how do we make informed design choices if what “inspires” turns out to be many things, depending on the time of day, activity, and person’s mood?

The answer to these challenges in most cases is some hybrid of quantitative and qualitative assessment, with a leaning usually toward the latter. During this SIG, we’ll have the chance to hear from several librarians who have taken different approaches to assessing what kinds of spaces their users want. While some are having their users articulate their dream library, others are focusing on eliciting suggestions for renovation projects aimed at specific spaces.

This SIG will blend presentation and hands-on work. There are two overall goals for the day: 1) to find in the mix of approaches a common ground from which we can draft some best practices for assessing both our spaces and our users with regard to library spaces, and 2) to have all participants head home with least the sketch of a space assessment project they plan to implement at their home institution.

Event Schedule:
7:30am – 9:00am Registration and Coffee

9:00am – 9:15am Greeting & Introduction

9:15am – 10:00am Post-its, Pencils, and Placement: A Simple Technique for Getting Student Involvement in the Planning Process
Amanda Izenstark, Reference & Instructional Design Librarian, University of Rhode Island
Mary MacDonald, Head of Instructional Services, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Rhode Island

With only a few short months between the news of funding and the planned start of a renovation project, librarians at URI had to find a quick, inexpensive, and targeted way to find out what their library users wanted. Learn about the technique they used, what they discovered, and how you can do something similar on the cheap.

10:00am - 10:15am Break and Table Talk 1

10:15am – 11:00am Hands-on 1: Worth a Thousand Words. Letting Pictures Speak
Susanna Cowan, Undergraduate Education Team Leader, University of Connecticut
Joelle Thomas, University Librarian, University of Connecticut

This exercise will have two parts: 1) Imagine-a-Space: a free-draw exercise akin to one that might be used as a part of a fuller design charette process; 2) we’ll practice going from drawings to conclusions: how can we use simple techniques to identify themes in diverse drawings.

11:00am – 11:45am Getting the Most out of Your Data: Methods for Collection, Coding and Use for Implementing Change in Student Learning Spaces
Sarah Hutton, Head, Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Services, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Rachel Lewellen, Assessment Librarian, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sarah and Rachel will discuss the broad range of techniques utilized to gather data for the development of student learning spaces in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. While libraries have been becoming more adept at gathering qualitative and quantitative data, an abundance of information can be challenging when it comes to the application of the results. They will also describe a few approaches to help library staff make sense of and use this data.

11:45am -12:45pm Lunch

12:45pm – 1:30pm Resurrecting Elihu Burritt Library: The Challenges and Opportunities of Rehabbing Library Space
Carl Antonucci, Director of Library Services, Central CT State University
Debbie Herman, Head, Electronic Resources and Information Systems, Central CT State University

Adapting a mid-Century modern building like the Elihu Burritt Library to the needs of 21st century college students has presented an eventful series of both challenges and opportunities. Relocating the library’s main entrance and access services functions to the ground level not only solved a problem of physical access but launched the library staff on a journey to resurrect the library and restore its place as the nexus of campus life. Our presentation will focus on techniques we used to gain insights on the needs and wants of students and faculty at CCSU. They include traditional methods such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups, as well as some unconventional ones! We will also discuss the need to cultivate strong advocates who support your library’s vision, the challenges and rewards of working with architects, and tips for helping change-averse staff through the process of transforming library space.

1:30pm – 2:15pm Hands-on 2: Space Project Plans Writ Small
Susanna Cowan, Undergraduate Education Team Leader, University of Connecticut
Joelle Thomas, University Librarian, University of Connecticut

This activity will allow participants to use some creative brainstorming techniques to jumpstart projects of any size: from something small and on the fly to something encompassing a large-scale space assessment and design undertaking. The emphasis will be both on connecting questions to concrete ideas (what do I need to know? How can I find that out?) and on scaling projects to resources (time, money, people).

2:15pm – 2:30pm Break and Table Talk (topic given)

2:30pm – 2:45pm Table Talk 2, continued: Best Practices and Project Plan Drafts

2:45pm - 3:00pm Wrap-up and Share



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