Rethinking Library Space and Design: Think Tank Emerging Technologies, Meeting 18

Hi, ThinkTankers,

This week in ThinkTank, we’ll be looking at how libraries think about physical space and how we might design new learning spaces. I’d like to cast a wide lens and talk about teaching, collaboration, and office spaces. Some leading questions for discussion:

– What are the spatial habits of the library? institutionally? organizationally?

– How can we rework these habits of space to accomodate different learning models?

– How can we reconfigure space to engage users and facilitate collaboration with university constituents?

Connie has agreed to lead this discussion and I’m looking forward to everyone’s thoughts. When you have the chance, take a look at the suggested resources and we’ll see you on Thursday at 10am in CR1.




RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms – Animation was adapted from a talk given at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.

Grummon, Phyllis. “Best Practices in Learning Space Design: Engaging Users”. March 26, 2009.

Sinclair, Bryan. “Commons 2.0: Library spaces designed for collaborative learning.” Educause Quarterly 30.4 (2007): 4.

Nancy Van Note Chism, “Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces,” in Learning Spaces, Diana G. Oblinger, Ed. (Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, 2006),

Jamieson, Peter. “Designing more effective on‐campus teaching and learning spaces: A role for academic developers.” International Journal for Academic Development 8.1-2 (2003): 119-133.

Notes from the discussion:

Began with education (Sir Ken Robinson video) and talked about divergent teaching models versus factory-model

  • Student-led education -> Student-led design
  • Is divergent teaching model pushing our redesign of learning spaces?
Learning is becoming more collaborative and this forces new space and design
  • Independent work stations
  • Tables for group discussion
  • “There is no front of the room.”  – Sports bar metaphor
  • Multiple screens
  • Seminar model
  • Networked (wifi, broadband)
  • Pecha Kucha model – offer broad limits, but allow for improvisations
Library spaces and tools to answer these new models
  • Group rooms
  • iRover (moveable screens)
  • Real-time information access (Tablet, smartphone integration)
  • Smartboards
  • Remote capabilities to create presence (Voip, videoconference)
  • Satellite libraries – How can we carry our services and resources into outside campus spaces?
  • Laboratory spaces (GIS lab)
  • Spaces that integrate cross-disciplinary work (Digital Humanities lab)
Spaces that create relationships
  • Neutral – “Engineer may react to space being to arty.”
  • Allow for innovation
  • Allow for negotiation of the space by outside consitutents
  • Facilitation of knowledge, not prescription
  • Allow for ownership and investment
Ways to move forward
  • Survey other departments and students for space needs
  • Investigate “less-designed” spaces
  • Integrate computer space and stack space
  • Mobile computing spaces
  • Help students understand they have responsibility to remake the space – especially as they are coming out of the factory model (“tell me what to do”)
  • Waterwalls, kinetic sculpture
  • Build mini-ecosystems that appeal to certain constituents – Engineering corner, Digital Arts center
  • Persona-based design for library spaces – web design as example
Guidelines for Learning Spaces (
  • Open
  • Free
  • Comfortable
  • Inspiring
  • Practical
Do our common spaces meet these criteria?
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Leave a Reply