Calendar of Events

May 7, 2014

SCUP Webinar
Campus Landscaping: Impact on Recruitment and Retention

May 20, 2014 | Winston-Salem State University | Winston-Salem, NC

SCUP 2014 Southern Symposium
Executing Campus Master Plans in Times of Shrinking Resources

May 23, 2014 | University of Calgary | Calgary, Alberta, (Canada)

SCUP 2014 Pacific Symposium
Higher Education Innovation in Challenging Times—An Integrated Approach

June 13, 2014 | George Mason University | Fairfax, VA
SCUP 2014 Mid-Atlantic Regional Symposium
Learning Spaces Workshop – Mason’s New Exploratory Hall Learning Spaces

July 12–16, 2014 | David L. Lawrence Convention Center | Pittsburgh, PA

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Joseph T. Isaac, President, African Methodist Episcopal University

Libraries as Informal Learning Spaces— excerpt from the first Chapman Prize Report + Call for 2013 Prize

The Call for the 2013 Perry Chapman Prize is live through May only. Respondents are asked to address the question: 

How does the physical campus support
institutional missions of learning and engagement?

Libraries as Informal Learning Spaces— excerpt from the first Chapman Prize Report

SCUP will soon publish the monograph, "Research on Learning Space Design: Present State, Future Directions," by Susan Painter, Janice Fournier, Caryn Grape, Phyllis Grummon, Jill Morelli, Susan Whitmer, and Joseph Cevetello. This team received the 2012 Perry Chapman Prize to support their work.

From the introduction to the report from the 2012 recipients:

Although several hundred articles and a number of books on these topics had been written by the fall of 2012, the field is still at an early stage of development. A first step in creating value from this existing body of work is to gather, summarize, and evaluate how far the field has come in identifying the elements that will allow us to thoughtfully design learning spaces and evaluate their impact. This was the purpose of the project being reported here: a literature review undertaken by a small group of researchers and campus architects/planners who had applied for and been awarded a small grant from the Perry Chapman estate, administered through the Sasaki Foundation in honor of M. Perry Chapman and administered by the Society for College and University Planning.  

The excerpt below is from:

  • Libraries as Informal Learning Spaces

Two studies in particular create a framework for studies of libraries as informal learning spaces. Yale University librarian emeritus Scott Bennett (2006) study found that 80 percent of collaborative spaces—those designed to bring together information technology, technological staff, and other student support services—exist within libraries. In spite of this, he presents data from 66 universities showing that their libraries were underperforming for 60 percent of their students and 80 percent of their instructors. Bennett points out that collaborative space serves not only the needs of students but also the librarians, the technology, and the library staff. He recommends a mission-based approach to library design, noting that this approach “insists, as its point of departure, that students are before all else learners and that library space design should be primarily concerned not with services but with learning” (p. 18).

The second important study is a comprehensive ethnographic research project conducted at the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester. Foster and Gibbons (2007) looked at student work processes related to writing research papers. They gathered information to address questions about why students choose to work at the library, where else they might work, and what aspects of the library facilitated their work. The researchers used mapping exercises, student-gathered photographs, surveys, interviews, and design charrettes. Their findings paint a detailed picture of students’ study lives that has implications for institutions that want to make the library relevant to those lives: 

  • Students are highly scheduled and on the go all of the time. There is no “average” day for a student. Academic, social, recreational, work, volunteer, and personal activities are all in the mix and each day is different. They eat on the go and carry their belongings with them, although they don’t carry their laptops. 
  • Students’ schedules are “offset” from librarians’ schedules. 
  • Students study in the library, at home/in their dorms, and in the computer lab. They use computer technology throughout the day and in multiple locations.

 The researchers also reported results from the design charrettes that show student needs and preferences:

  • Flexibility: spaces that meet a variety of needs. Students want to move easily among the spaces. Group and individual study areas are important, as are spaces to relax, a café, and computing and media viewing areas.   
  • Comfort: spaces that provide comfort and have a “family room” atmosphere. This includes easy access to coffee and food, natural light, and an environment with soothing textures, sounds, and great warmth. The space should support sitting, slouching, putting one’s feet up, and lying down.  
  • Technology: technology and tools should be intuitively integrated into the space. This includes high-end technology such as media players, smart boards, and plasma screens as well as low-tech items such as power outlets, staplers, and three-hole punch tools.
  • Staff support: Students rarely made distinctions between the types of staff they needed in the library; rather, they expected to interact with a generic staff member who would be able to provide reference assistance, check out materials, answer IT questions, and brew a great latte. There were very few mentions of a reference or information desk. Librarians cannot assume that they know how students do their academic work or what they need.
  • Resources: students included library materials in their designs, ranging from academic and reference books to leisure magazines and DVDs.  

Radcliffe, Wilson, Powell & Tibbetts (2008; 2009) edited a series of case studies that addressed both libraries and other kinds of campus spaces. With regard to libraries, the authors concluded that despite the existence of online resources, a physical place is still important and students like coming to the library when they have staff support in person and their “own space” in the library. Other needs revealed by these case studies included:

  • Flexibility of spaces: the design needs to accommodate different needs at different times of year; spaces can evolve and be repurposed even throughout a single semester.  
  • Variety of spaces: the library serves as a social learning hub that must balance group collaborative spaces, quiet discussion spaces, silent spaces, individual learning spaces, and social spaces.
  • Convenience:  students value easy access to water fountains and toilets, the ability to eat and drink in library areas, and multiple access points to the library; these optimize students’ time.  
  • The nature of a learning task dictates how students use space in the library.
  • Older students tend to use the library more than younger students.
  • Visual elements, such as windows, art exhibits, and color, attract users.
  • The presence of other people attracts users.
  • Available support services attract users.

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