Designing a physical library space to connect with Web 2.0

If you had to design a library space. Would your design be influenced by Web 2.0 tools?. What sort of things would you incorporate in the space to enable users to connect with the library better. I'll be shortly moving our Library to a new space where there may be an opportunity to redesign how our library functions for clients. What suggestions do people have? What should I consider? A first sugestion has been to get a really good cappucino machine!

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There are obvious privacy issues, but it could be interesting to have a large display of recent / popular library activity to provide some immediacy and connection of folks to what others are doing in the library. The data could be aggregated or anonymized to a sufficient degree for public consumption -- perhaps "books returned recently" where the display doesn't start until a few hours after a book is checked back into the system.
Hey, don't overlook the importance of the cappucino machine. I've heard several people say that they'd love for the library to have a place sort of like a Barnes & Noble, or other bookstore where they can enjoy food and drink, and lounge in comfy chairs when they read. Even better if it has wireless-- people (and not just students!) will want to come and bring their laptops.

In the end, I don't see Web 2.0 tools having a huge effect on the library's physical space-- the demand of patrons will have a greater effect than the tools themselves. I think David has a great idea-- either have the display of recent and popular activity available both on the library website and in the library itself. Also, since I tend to hear complaints about reference librarians never being around when one needs them, make IM, Twitter, and the like available.
HI LIsa, I think Jennifer is right! You are on a good thing already with the RSS feeds of journals that you are experimenting with. Add IM or Twitter, and you will be really 'out there'. Go girl! ;-)
This isn't really a comment about designing new interiors, but rather a comment about how old spaces adapt to new needs: I've been tickled to notice that our section of old wooden private study carrels (that many libraries no longer have) has been adopted by many of our students as good places to study on their wireless laptops. This has turned out to be a really nice alternative to the open, group-oriented study areas in the library for those students who prefer to work individually in a quieter area with more privacy.
I've toyed around with the idea of "video message boards" which could alert patrons to new materials in the library, inform them that their ILLs have arrived, or relay messages from the circulation desk (i.e. give us our stuff back). E-mail seems to be problematic form of communication with most of our students. Wireless connectivity is vital I believe and all things go better with caffeine.

I'm a strong proponent of asking student input in regards to designing space in the library.
If I was building or renovating a physical space today, I would deliberately zone for different types of activities, mainly to offer areas based on level of sound. So communal areas that can be noisy (and you can talk on your cell phone), but then quiet areas where you're not bombarded with noise (and you can put your cell phone on vibrate and text message, etc.).

We need to be very aware of creating collaborative spaces and provide furniture for that. I would also add as many small rooms for workgroups as I could.

I would think about what the layout could look like in 10 years when the reference and circulation desks are gone. How do I build space now that maximizes efficiency for the types of roving reference and help that my staff will be doing when they are no longer chained to a desk. Do we still need to hardwire phone lines everywhere or will VoIP make that unnecessary. In what kinds of collaborative spaces will I work with my patrons that come into the building? These are the kinds of questions I would be asking.

Definitely allow for wireless to flow throughout the entire building, but just as important these days are the power outlets. I would put in as many of these suckers as possible all over the place. Too often I'm in a library, bookstore, café, etc. flying on the wireless, but I don't have an outlet. I've seen fights break out over the one empty outlet. I can't wait for the advent of power via wireless (my kingdom for this!).

Regarding David's idea of a display of recent activity, Seattle Public Library has several large flat screens above one of the reference desks. It's an art installation in which titles, call numbers, and aggregate numbers float across the screen. Patron privacy is protected because the data comes from materials checked out an hour ago (or some figure like that), so you can't associate it with a specific person you saw at a desk. It's really quite impressive, and after the Library has been open for an hour or two, it becomes a wonderful visual for how much activity is happening within the building.

It would be interesting to add statistics for virtual activities to that kind of display.
At Interaction Ivrea a few years back some classmates and I looked at how could make the library a more social environment by introducing people based on their reading interests (completely opt in of course). The idea was to go a few steps beyond providing a cafe space, and using that space as a point of interaction between patrons by drawing them in from wherever they were (in the building or somewhere else in town).
Hi Lisa,

I am quite the newb' to libraryland but I have worked in bookstores and I think the initial entrance should be filled with the most convenient things: Coffee! I would love it if right inside the door there was a coffee bar with stools lining a counter and even a couple booths; Information like program information, maps, bulletin boards (possibly electric or web based for all these); quick web access and catalog stations; bright, inviting displays of the most popular circulation material at that library; express checkouts and book returns.

My Web 2.0 idea would be to have some sort of display that is interactive almost anywhere you want to sit that would have great navigational capabilites (physical and web): Something like the large maps you find in malls but that you could IM questions to librarians or do a info search and have an area of the map light up. Also have it so when you touch/select an area of the screen, a small preview window would open. There is a firefox add-on that does this and it would be great for maps to do this as well. Also, maybe some type of Twitter-ish applications where staff and resources are trackable on the maps and have a presence that is easily accessible to customers.

I know this is far-fetched but I think this easy-information model is where we are going.

Great question, Lisa.
This thread is bringing up a nice set of design elements:
- Reference librarians at hand
- Noise level zoning
- Group collaborative/single/social rooming
- Food & drink comfort with cafe ambiance
- Wireless
- Web 2.0 availability
- Activity displays, ideally interactive multimedia
- User input of design ideas

Now, imagine you already had all these things covered in one way or another in your university library service. Yet imagine that you wanted to dedicate a physcal space specifically to researchers, i.e. the professional academics as well as the research students.

What would you need to include in that researcher space to make it user specific? I would be interested in your thoughts.

I think that such a space would need to very adaptable to the specific needs of each different researcher and their particular needs as they evolve. But at the same time there must be a common denominator in the needs of researchers.

I think adaptability is the key. I think the most successful new builds/refurbishment in recent years have all included some form of flexibility in their design so that users can customise the space around them: move chairs or tables use areas for group work or individual study and use areas for PCs or traditional paper-based learning. I think this is in the spirit of Web 2.0.

I would like to see things along the lines that Ben and theshiftedlibrarian mention, where you can have information points that are totally adaptable to your needs. I suppose living electronic information walls if you were to take it to its extreme. Somewhere you could punt the information out that would suit the time and user. For example, a display could have Ben's interactive maps at the start of the term along with information about induction sessions. RSS feeds to popular journals/library news at other times, study tips at exam times, helpline numbers late at night...

With RFID you could use the patron information from cards to provide the most suitable sort of information to best match the group of users currently in the area.

Oh dear, better get back to the real world!
There have been some great suggestions on this discussion, library space design is a growing interest of mine.

I was thinking that a way for students to provide feedback and discussion in a physical way would be interesting, both to other students and to the library staff, in public. My first thought was a bulletin board with post its/note paper and pins/etc. that the students could use to write comments, thoughts, etc (more interesting than the usual whiteboard). But there might be an electronic way to do this that would be less convoluted.

This could be a private way for students to feedback on the library and their needs.
I know that a couple of Danish libraries are experimenting with audio recordings on RFID chips. Not an easier way per se, but perhaps dfferent enough to garner interest.



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