I started this blog when I worked at Georgia Tech so perhaps it is fitting that one of my final posts is about that library.
Here is an interview with Ameet Doshi, Director, Service Experience & Program Design. He talks about moving the collection off-campus and the new types of spaces and services they are developing. It’s a very ambitious plan and I would expect nothing less from that library.
Here is a snippet from their white paper that sets up the transformation:
A majority of the Library’s physical collection — the very core of all preconceived notions of what a research library is and how librarians serve — is leaving the Georgia Tech Library space. Even without these books, we are still a research library.
And here is a promo video that outlines the concept:
Tell me about the renewal. What’s the goal?
AD: The goal is to become a library that can anticipate and proactively support the changing needs of Georgia Tech students, faculty, staff, and researchers. We aim to develop a physical infrastructure which will lengthen the life of this core campus asset, while developing a partnership with Emory which will ensure the long life of the print collection as well. It is important to recognize that the Library Renewal and the Emory / Georgia Tech Library Service Center are both interlinked projects: the LSC provides a climate-controlled repository for the print collection, with the ability to scan on demand when possible, as well as delivery to both campuses.
A key objective for the Library Renewal is implementing a service model that is more proactive in the Library’s interaction with students and faculty. As librarians, we want to be involved in student and faculty research, teaching and learning endeavors earlier and longer. So there is a highly practical aspect which involves renewing the physical facility infrastructure in a way that is efficient, sustainable, and effective for the long haul, as well as a more transformational aspect which includes the partnership with Emory, new user spaces, and a new service design model.
Our partners in this effort have been - first and foremost - the students and faculty, as well as GT Capital Planning and Space Management, and GT Design and Construction. We have also worked with brightspot strategy on developing the service model and BNIM / LP3 architects on the programmatic design for the library.
I see that you are planning to greatly reduce the amount of the collection held on campus. Can a library be a library with so few print materials onsite?
AD: Yes, absolutely, because the Library is and always has been a changing organism. The ability to immediately browse millions or hundreds of thousands of physical print books within highly valuable central campus space worked well for research libraries in the 20th century. But, like many research libraries, we have seen our print utilization rates drop precipitously (from 80,000+ checkouts in 2003 down to under 30,000 checkouts last year), while seeing a concurrent increase in access to the Library’s electronic subscriptions (with over 1,000,000 clicks to Library e-Resources in 2013), and - interestingly - a marked increase in physical space utilization over the past decade (we hit 1.33 million user visits last year, up from 875,000 in 2005).
So it is clear the library needs to evolve to meet the changing needs of users for the 21st century. More library space for users, and less for underutilized print collections. More electrical infrastructure, more daylight, more scanning and e-delivery of print materials when feasible, and - importantly - we are being good stewards of the print materials that we do have with the Emory collaboration. Those materials will be housed in climate conditions which maintain paper for hundreds of years.
Tell me about the background research you’ve done.
A group of librarians was challenged by campus to write a white paper within which the Library lays out the philosophical underpinnings of the project. The paper also provides insight regarding your question above: Reimagining the Georgia Tech Library.
This has been a user-driven process and we have been working with Brightspot Strategy consultancy in developing the Library Program and Library Service Model based on interviews with faculty and students, as well as librarians and Institute leadership.
User Research Report
What types of spaces and services are you planning to offer once the physical footprint opens up?
AD: First of all, the renewed Library will double the amount of student study space including both individual and collaborative spaces. Enrollment continues to increase, library gate count continues to increase, yet the amount of Library study spaces has not kept pace. This is particularly evident when comparing the “study seats / students” metric with our peer institutions and State standards. We continually hear from our users that the number of study spaces and electrical infrastructure is inadequate and the Library Renewal will finally solve those persistent problems. Other spaces in the library program align with the strategic teaching, learning and research mission of the Institute, and complement existing services elsewhere on campus. These spaces include:
Digital Media and Scholarship Commons: The Digital Media & Scholarship Commons will provide several services around a number of topics (scholarly communication, visualization, 3D printing, multimedia production, retrocomputing, digitization) through self-guided materials, student experts, and subject matter experts. In the DMSC, you might:
- Consult with an expert on archiving and tagging your research data
- Plan a digital collection or research project
- Develop an online, open access scholarly journal
- Move from recording a video to editing it to posting it online, with guidance from student and subject matter experts
- Meet with your class to walk through and test data visualization tools
- Prototype a new product in the 3D studio
- Research the user experience of older software in the retrocomputing lab
- Use the desktops and dual monitors in the multimedia computing area to work on a graphics-heavy presentation, then print a large format poster
- Get assistance with using your laptop at the service point
Expert Consultation Center: There are two core offerings: expert consultations with librarians, and research navigators. At a high level, expert consultations provide guidance on subject matter areas and research navigators guide users through the research infrastructure, such as assessing research needs, facilitating access to resources and tools, and negotiating administrative hurdles.
In the Center, you might:
- Meet with an expert librarian and your group to work on a literature review in one of the larger consultation spaces, or to explore a scholarly communication issue
- Drop by to see if an expert is available for a quick consult
- Work with your Research Navigator to understand the IRB research protocols and refine your proposal together
- Work intensely on a research project, knowing that help is nearby
- Stay after a consultation to do research at a workstation, to not lose momentum
Teaching Studio: The teaching studio will be a space for designing and developing effective pedagogical practices with Georgia Tech TAs, postdocs, instructors, and faculty.
Scholars Event Network: The Scholars’ Event Network will be an integrated network of spaces, services and software to co-design, market, convene, and archive interdisciplinary scholarly events for the Georgia Tech research and teaching communities.
Innovation and Ideation Studio: The Innovation and Idea Studio is a place where ideas take shape. It’s low-tech and low-service, with furniture and supplies to help users explore, visualize, prototype, and develop their ideas. The Studio is a place for individuals and groups, as well as a home base for innovation and entrepreneurship classes and programs at the Library. As such, the space is generally open and flexible to accommodate the different activities that take place – with open tables and group nooks, and potentially some enclosed, more private spaces.
Library “Store”: The Library Store, as it is currently being called, will be the “face” of the library, inviting users in and engaging them in the breadth of activities, services, expertise, and collections of the Library. In the Store, users and service providers will work side-by-side at a service station or with roving staff wherever users are.
The “store” draws from multiple service categories and departments:
- Service areas and roving staff to welcome, orient, and help users
- Exhibitions and pop-up events that showcase Library / Georgia Tech activities, resources, and research
- Self-serve circulation services
- Digital and physical collections
- Variety of user seating
Additional programmatic elements planned for the renewed Library include: a Science Fiction lounge, a faculty reading / research space, spaces to showcase Special Collections, technology to support visualization, a graduate student study space, and a library café.
Tell me about the Retro-computing lab.
AD: Built on collaboration with a strong multidisciplinary community of campus supporters and designed by a team of librarians and archivists with diverse expertise, retroTECH is a public-facing program in which the Library partners with the Georgia Tech campus community to design the future by hacking the past. With the emerging retroTECH Lab as a home base, students, faculty, staff, and alumni can undertake hands-on research, peer-to-peer personal archiving, curricular activities, and outreach around vintage technologies.
The vision for the retroTECH Lab entails a highly curated combination of classic, vintage hardware and software and cutting edge modern tools for emulation, available for experiential learning. The retroTECH Lab will not only serve as a hands-on historical reference point; it will activate new ideas about future technology and preserving innovation. The program will foster the kind of hacking that makes connections between the classic and the cutting edge and invite the Georgia Tech community to consider how we both engineer and are engineered by technology. The Library and Archives acquired our seed collection of five vintage workstations from an alumnus and former faculty member who inspired the idea. Along with two emulation workstations, currently in development, these machines form the core of our pilot retroTECH Lab space, where we are testing programming to be implemented in our future permanent lab space in the renewed library.
When will all this work be finished?
AD: The project will occur in two phases with each phase taking up to two years. Construction is anticipated to begin next year, although preparation of the collection has already begun, as well as organizational changes to meet the programmatic and service needs for the new Library.