Flexible Spaces at Stony Brook Southampton: Planning a New Undergraduate Library
Conference Booklet Description: “When planning for a new or renovated library, it is essential to design space that is flexible. Several types of learning and leisure spaces are needed to accommodate the new NetGen student. The NetGen student mixes work with socializing, likes working in groups but also seeks the quiet study space long associated with the library. This presentation focuses on how the library at Southampton could become a model for this new type of library, poised to evolve with technology and the way that students learn. A brief overview of current trends in the design of flexible library space will be followed by an open discussion.”
My Thoughts: This session was really interesting. The presenters were talking about the decisions they went through when planning their new undergraduate library. One cool thing that they did was research all kinds of libraries and information commons on the Internet and collect pictures of what they did and didn’t like. They then submitted their thoughts to the architects responsible for designing the space. This was an imperative step because architects typically don’t have the same things in mind when they design libraries as librarians do. The librarians are the ones who are going to be utilizing that space every day, and they have seen first had what works and what doesn’t. For instance, carrels were found to be underused, while comfy seating was very popular. The power point presentation that this group put together was superb, and as soon as they have it online I am going to provide a link here. They had pictures of some very modern furniture and set ups.
Another interesting thing was that they were still deciding on what to call the library. They had thought of not even using the word “library” and using something like Information Commons or some sort of mutual gathering and sharing space. The library is scheduled to open in Fall 2008, so there is still a lot of work to do. One thing the group said they would like to do is get together a group of students to serve as ambassadors regarding what would be most useful, which I think is a great idea. Why not ask the population you will be serving?