Library Spaces: Cha-cha-cha-Changes in Libraries

study spaces

As a User Experience (UX) Librarian, my focus is to assess and improve the services that our patrons come in contact with. Our library will undergo a renovation in 2017 and thus, what will the alterations will mean for our users? Academic libraries are changing – the emphasis is no longer focusing on collecting print material, because the way we find information has changed radically in the last decade. Our UX group took the initiative to study the spaces and seating choices students use when in the library, to determine what would be most beneficial for them in the renovated building.

During the fall semester, coinciding with the weeks when the library was most active, our group walked the floors of the library to note on maps where the students worked. We took the time to speak with them about their choices – why they liked working at tables (they could spread out or work as a group), why they chose individual carrels (they needed quiet and no distractions), and their opinions about different sample furniture we tested, to determine what would be best for their needs in the refurbished library.

We assessed an enormous amount of data that illustrated to us that libraries of the 21st century are more than places to locate print materials. Libraries are still spaces where our patrons come to work, but the ways in which workspaces are utilized varies. Some use it for individual study, some for group work, and some for informal, social activities. Ultimately, our study informed us that we need to be progressive in our thinking about our library spaces to accommodate patrons’ needs, in order to provide the tools and services our modern users require. Libraries are not static entities – cha-cha-cha-changes are everywhere.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016A and tagged , , , , , .


  1. I want to appreciate your writeup about library spaces. You did quite a comprehensive assessment with respect to the user’s needs before thinking of embarking in such a project so as to meet the user’s future needs.
    It is true that library spaces needs to be changed constantly due to technological changes amidst other environmental factors and the mindset of the library users. But this depends too on the means available and the study culture of such library users.
    My Uni library has a problem of space and most of the users complain that they are distracted as it not too far from one of the lecture halls. The Uni is in its 6th year of operation and it is not yet in its permanent site. It has a capacity of 40 seats for a population of about 600-700. It contains more than 18000 volumes of print material and about 600 volumes of soft material. I think in the future years with the increase in population forecast, our library space will equally need to undergo some changes to suit its current user needs, most especially that of distraction and limited space.

  2. I like that you and your team did a ‘true study’ and asked the people using the space. I also appreciate that the university is forward-thinking. Also loved the writing – you are a natural, Molly 🙂

  3. Nice!
    I am a Non-librarian. Thanks for sharing your expertise and experience.
    Your article made me understand about the spaces in Libraries and how they impact the people who visit libraries.

  4. Pingback: Discussion topic: Ch-Ch-Ch Changes (in libraries) | International Librarians Network

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *