It is a scenario familiar to all those working in the higher education sector. Space is the new, and certainly not the final, library frontier as highlighted by The University of Manchester Library’s insightful blog post on this key library priority. It is a peculiar conundrum in the digital age where electronic information was meant to reduce the need for physical spaces. Not true. There is continued demand for ‘learning spaces’ where creative spaces are available for group discussion, presentations, etc:
“Academic Libraries are amidst a sea of change and challenges. Open Access, new publishing models, self-publishing models, research data management, local systems moving to the cloud, big data, competition from Google, mobile apps, therapy dogs , linked data, restructures; a mix of opportunities and ideas through which the Library is striving to support students, staff, research and the community as best we possibly can using the resources available. But for all we might think we’ve found the Next Big Thing, there is one thing which still rides high in every survey, consultancy or conversation in the queue for coffee”:
Our stats at the University of Lincoln show that whilst e-books and e-journals are extremely popular, loans of physical books attract comparable stats. Surveys consistently show how important libraries are to study, they are recognised as safe and encourage a studious environment. Even though the University of Manchester have recently opened the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons in October 2012 they found students wanted even more study space. They innovatively opened more rooms to deal with their busiest period, calling it ‘Exam Extra‘. Other ideas they have promoted include the marvellous live webpage called Book a space, that shows which rooms are available in the library.
The University of Manchester Library.
Further analysis is required. Other universities like Birckbeck, University of London, are trying to find solutions to the Space Issue via OccupEye. The University of Stirling posted this video about maximising their library space using some interrogative software.