Reallocating Paper Space to People Space ACRLNY Symposium

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Reallocating Paper Space to People Space ACRL/NY Symposium December 2, 2005 James Benson Vice

Reallocating Paper Space to People Space ACRL/NY Symposium December 2, 2005 James Benson Vice Provost Dean of Information Resources & Libraries

Structure of the Presentation • The thesis • The basic consequences of thesis •

Structure of the Presentation • The thesis • The basic consequences of thesis • More detailed arguments

The Thesis • The use of physical space in libraries has changed. • Virtual

The Thesis • The use of physical space in libraries has changed. • Virtual library space is rapidly becoming the primary location for individual information seeking by library users – in many fields of study, but not all • In consequence, many physical libraries in higher education are under used.

Physical Libraries Need to be Redesigned • The result of the change is the

Physical Libraries Need to be Redesigned • The result of the change is the potential for a profound transformation in the use of information in physical libraries. – The use of physical space in libraries is changing to collaborative information use. We must, therefore, • transform storage space for paper-based library materials to collaboration enabling space for people. • bring users of paper-based resources closer to the paper that they use

Then! • In the past, many library users visited the library to identify, locate,

Then! • In the past, many library users visited the library to identify, locate, and retrieve information for study or research. – Most worked alone, occasionally seeking assistance. – Most users wanted to get their stuff and leave, unless it wasn’t permitted outside of the library. – Study groups often use textbooks and class notes rather than library materials. – Commuters also read and studied in the library because it was available space, away from home, before, between, and after class.

Now! • These uses have not disappeared, – but the anytime, anywhere access to

Now! • These uses have not disappeared, – but the anytime, anywhere access to digital library materials have decreased substantially the frequency of these uses in the physical library. • Individual information seeking can be a lonely business whether in the physical library or the digital library, – but it seems a particularly lonely enterprise in the virtual space of a digital library.

Virtual Space Preferred for Individual Information Seeking • The availability of information in virtual

Virtual Space Preferred for Individual Information Seeking • The availability of information in virtual space, whether – “free” content on the internet and/or – information paid for by the library • has eliminated the need for the physical library as a preferred space – for individual information seeking.

Any Time, Any Where Access is Expected • Where ever you are, when ever

Any Time, Any Where Access is Expected • Where ever you are, when ever you are, – if you have a computer and an internet connection you can probably access the information • that you need or • that has been assigned for class. – If you can’t, you will probably pass on retrieving it

Ubiquitous Computing • The student with a wireless laptop has the world’s libraries at

Ubiquitous Computing • The student with a wireless laptop has the world’s libraries at his or her beck and call. – As a result, some university libraries are emptying out. There are many fewer people using their physical space.

Not Just Libraries • Virtual space is not only transforming libraries. • More and

Not Just Libraries • Virtual space is not only transforming libraries. • More and more of our – work, – study, and – play • has become virtual.

Privacy? • For many of us, – virtual space can be a much desired

Privacy? • For many of us, – virtual space can be a much desired form of privacy, – even when we and our computer are in a crowded room. • we can often ignore everyone else.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Computer • For others virtual space is a

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Computer • For others virtual space is a lonely cave.

Seeking Contact • Whether we respond positively or negatively to virtual space, for many

Seeking Contact • Whether we respond positively or negatively to virtual space, for many of us, – Face-to-face human contact becomes more precious as we spend more of our time in virtual space. – When not there, we may expect and need human contact. – But we may not cope well with face-to-face contact

Collaborative Information Use • As the problems experienced in the world of work have

Collaborative Information Use • As the problems experienced in the world of work have become more complex – [requiring effective team work in order to solve those problems] and • as work, study, and play have become more and more virtual – [providing less direct human contact], – employers have begun to prize workers able to work together effectively.

Collaboration Required • Universities are advised by their alumni and employers – to teach

Collaboration Required • Universities are advised by their alumni and employers – to teach students how to collaborate. • In response, – Universities have begun to emphasize assignments that require collaboration.

Collaborative Work • These assignments often require that students collectively – evaluate, – analyze,

Collaborative Work • These assignments often require that students collectively – evaluate, – analyze, and – present information.

Seeking Faces • These tasks too can be accomplished virtually, – But since face-to-face

Seeking Faces • These tasks too can be accomplished virtually, – But since face-to-face contact can be precious – these assignments can become a reason to • meet and • work together. • But more than work happens!

Seamlessness • Play, • work, and • study become – seamless, – undifferentiated.

Seamlessness • Play, • work, and • study become – seamless, – undifferentiated.

Why the library? • Library space for such collaboration is sought frequently by students.

Why the library? • Library space for such collaboration is sought frequently by students. – The technology is there. – The space is there. – Assistance with information problems is there.

Why not the library? • Some libraries provide environments that encourage work and social

Why not the library? • Some libraries provide environments that encourage work and social interaction. – Remember, for the virtual generation, • work, • study, and • play – are seamless.

Balancing the needs of the group and the individual seeking more contemplative space is

Balancing the needs of the group and the individual seeking more contemplative space is difficult • Some libraries make group work unwelcome. – [with its noise, its mixture of social and work elements, its pre-emption of quiet study space] • Many libraries overbalance to one approach or the other. • Those University Libraries that overbalance to the individual are today – often essentially empty for large portions of the semester.

The Ideal • Ideally, we serve both – the individual seeking a space for

The Ideal • Ideally, we serve both – the individual seeking a space for quiet study, and – the group seeking space to use information collaboratively.

Competing Needs • Any library built before 1995 [and some built after] probably does

Competing Needs • Any library built before 1995 [and some built after] probably does not have people space balanced between these needs. • Most libraries dedicate most of their square footage to the storage of paper-based information resources. • In order to rebalance their people space more effectively, libraries need to create more people space. • That people space needs to accommodate the competing needs of the individual and the group.

Change the Balance • That typically means a radical change in the balance of

Change the Balance • That typically means a radical change in the balance of use of people space. • We need lots of group space and less individual study space, and • The individual study space needed must be of better quality than that provided by a large reading room with dingy tables, chairs, walls, and lighting.

People Space in Libraries • The group space must accommodate differing sizes of groups,

People Space in Libraries • The group space must accommodate differing sizes of groups, differing collective purposes, and some of it must be outright social. • We must signal to students a changed orientation. • Spaces that notably signal the approval of social interaction in the library are essential – To signal that the seamless pattern of work, study, and play is understood, • Spaces like cafes send such a signal.

Leveling the Information Use Playing Field for Users of Paper-based Information Resources • While

Leveling the Information Use Playing Field for Users of Paper-based Information Resources • While university libraries are in the midst of a transformation, the change is not complete. – Many fields of study still need to use paper-based information resources. – These faculty and students are at a distinct disadvantage to their brethren in more digitally oriented fields. • Their access to information is constrained by distance and time. – They must go to the library. – They are limited by library hours.

Accomodations are needed • The virtual user of digital information can access their library

Accomodations are needed • The virtual user of digital information can access their library resources any time, any where. • To level the playing field for users who mostly use paper-based and micro-film based information resources, – university libraries may need to make special accommodations for these users. – we must begin integrating these users’ work homes into the library.

What do users of paper need • Such a move is more than simply

What do users of paper need • Such a move is more than simply bringing faculty offices into the library. • It means – placing their most used materials adjacent to their work homes. • planning for many of these resources to be become virtual – providing information assistance adjacent to their work homes. – creating collaborative spaces that facilitate the shared use of paper-based materials.

How! • We can replace paper space with people space, • Tactics include: –

How! • We can replace paper space with people space, • Tactics include: – Moving underutilized materials to remote storage – Using compact shelving – Weeding. • We need the people space! It is essential for our future.