Despite the common belief that the internet has overshadowed the importance of libraries, a lot of academic and public libraries have achieved massive renovation and improvement with increased patron use over the years.
University students have increased demands and expectations these days for academic libraries on the basis of new learning approaches. Though you can access the information round the clock from the internet, it can cause isolation. On the other side, the new library model serves as a forum to collaborate, indulge in healthy debate, enjoy fellowship, and experience learning in various sensible ways. Here are some of the common trends to learn how to design libraries for the 21st century.
Learning and working alone shouldn’t be done. Collaboration has changed virtually every aspect of pedagogy and every aspect of university, including libraries. Earlier, teaching was based on sharing knowledge from teacher to student. These days, students can explore new ideas and gain knowledge with their fellow students. Professors motivate students to get answers on their own and they help in the process. Today, the paradigm has been shifted.
This collective approach to teaching and learning matches rapid improvement of information. Its depth and breadth needs collaboration between people with various levels of expertise and areas. The most efficient learning spaces and libraries facilitate and embrace this move. Collaboration improves productivity in academic work at libraries.
Make it High Tech
In a library, make sure to equip every corner with technology. From adding power outlets to charge laptops to adding 3D simulators, library should be well planned with all the high-end amenities, such as –
- Wireless printer and Wi-Fi access
- Public computers should be available with internet connection and software
- Presentation rooms should be equipped with conference tables and projection systems
- Distance learning classrooms should have electronic flip charts and video conferencing to share both electronic and graphical information
- Lockers with in-built charging outlets for laptops and smartphones
- Advanced computing centers with latest graphics, video and science programs
- 3D visualisation to provide realistic visuals to help students interact in a better way
Plan for Future
Today’s libraries should be futuristic. The best way to make it happen is to improve flexibility in infrastructure and spaces. Build core infrastructure like natural lighting, virtual circulation, and HVAC to promote renovation in future. Also keep in mind that you may want to replace the equipment with better models early in the process whenever the project needs to be completed. Be sure to use equipment delivery to deal with this problem just in time, especially for basic requirements like projectors, computers and AV equipment.
Temporary wall partitions and movable furniture improves long-term functionality of space as well as short needs to serve flexible environments. When students can reconfigure their environment, they can easily create conducive environments to promote optimal and collaboration learning.
Try to Attract and Retain Best Students
Library is known to be the USP for any university. These days, potential students are your patrons. They have different demands and expectations from the libraries before attending. The libraries can reinforce the brand of a university to attract and retain bright students, especially seniors in high school which many colleges compete for.
A library can convey the missions and goals of a university through environmental branding and graphics. It is known to be a physical overview of philosophies.
Optimise the Spaces
Use circulation zones as integral spaces. There is a room to grow for some of the most widely used library spaces. For example, a corridor can serve as a gallery for art exhibits or students. You can provide more seating by expanding the corridor out of the study rooms to help students to gather. You can use unused space around the entrance and make it a bulletin board. Or convert the unused areas into certain spaces which can promote interaction to add life to the environment and provide more room for collaboration and learning.
Visualise Library as Location
Modern library is no longer a location to organise and collect resources. They need to become a vital part of learning academics and culture of the university. Modern libraries are known to serve four important functions along with having study resources.
First of all, they promote collaboration. Learning becomes less isolated and more team oriented. Hence, there is a great demand and need for collaboration space to help students. It is very viral for students to have a place where they can get together and make the most of learning space. Library should serve as a space where students can debate and discuss openly without keeping their voice down.
Second, contemplative, individual space is a must with collaborative one. Instead of having long tables in traditional libraries, it is better to have different spaces to meet the needs of individuals and their learning styles. Some students prefer study carrels while some prefer cozy lounge furniture. You can have a blend of informal and formal spaces to set environments where you can meet the needs of all students. Sound control is definitely very vital for coexistence of loud and lively areas with quiet places.
Third, a modern library should offer services like tutoring, writing and communication, and advanced lab spaces. Finally, libraries need to provide both technical and research services while staying up to date with tech support services.
Get the most of Commons
Commons have been the core of an academic library. It is also known as e-commons, learning commons, informative commons, or intellectual commons. No matter what you name it, the commons combine classical library reference and tech services along with learning resources. It helps students to gather. These commons break a lot of stereotypes in traditional libraries. No one keeps students from having refreshments, discussions. It promotes collaborative behavior and vending machines and cafes are also there. A lot of commons in libraries are known to operate round the clock.
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