If the classroom is the heart of higher education, the library is its soul.
Brief History of College Libraries
Typically, undergraduate libraries were not often discussed during the first part of the 20th century — It was thought that the basic library collections were able to meet the needs of all users, undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.
As a result of the rapid increase in the student population after World War II, undergraduate service became an issue for library and university administrators. With the growth of a complex research-oriented library and university system, undergraduate students were often bewildered. Huge card catalogs, closed book stacks and extensive reference materials overwhelmed new students and many did not seek assistance.
Harvard’s Lamont Library was the first large university’s effort to open an undergraduate library. Many other universities followed suit, such as Michigan, Texas and South Carolina. Some established full-scale libraries while others provided separate reading rooms aimed at undergraduates. One characteristic of these projects was that the books were housed in open stacks. Through design and layout undergraduate libraries and reading rooms tried to convey an informal and accessible air.
“Libraries need to break out…. We need to rethink our whole attitude about the relationship between students and space, furniture, and information, and redefine what a library should be.”
–Lee Van Orsdel Dean of University Libraries, Grand Valley State University
In a digital world, libraries are “ripe for reinvention,” says Derek Jones, Principal in Perkins+Will’s Raleigh, N.C., office. Colleges are trimming the space their libraries allocate for books and storage and are forming consortiums to share resources. Digitization is facilitating just‑in‑time delivery of information and materials, although, as Jones points out, “when you have a million items and no budget, digitizing can be a formidable task.”
Steelcase WorkSpace Futures researchers and designers have developed key design principles for planning 21st century libraries. Like the classroom design principles, they’re based on primary user-centered research. The library design principles reflect the changed nature of a library in higher education today:
- Design library spaces that support social learning
- Support the librarian’s evolving role
- Optimize the performance of informal spaces
- Plan for adjacencies
- Provide for individual comfort, concentration, and security
- Provide spaces that improve awareness of, and access to, library resources
These top 10 highlights capture the big picture themes of organizational change that need to take place to develop a Library of the Future for institutions of higher education:
Libraries remain the gatekeepers to rich tapestries of information and knowledge. As the volume of web resources increases, libraries are charged with finding new ways to organize and disseminate research to make it easier to discover, digest, and track.
Incorporating new media and technologies in strategic planning is essential. Libraries must keep pace with evolving formats for storing and publishing data, scholarly records, and publications in order to match larger societal consumption trends favoring video, visualizations, virtual reality, and more.
In the face of financial constraints, open access is a potential solution. Open resources and publishing models can combat the rising costs of paid journal subscriptions and expand research accessibility. Although this idea is not new, current approaches and implementations have not yet achieved peak efficacy.
Libraries must balance their roles as places for both independent study and collaboration. Flexibility of physical spaces is becoming paramount for libraries to serve as campus hubs that nurture cross-disciplinary work and maker activities — without eschewing their reputations as refuges for quiet reflection.
Catering to patrons effectively requires user centric design and a focus on accessibility. Adopting universal design principles and establishing programs that continuously collect data on patron needs will make libraries the ultimate destination for learning support and productivity.
Spreading digital fluency is a core responsibility. Libraries are well-positioned to lead efforts that develop patrons’ digital citizenship, ensuring mastery of responsible and creative technology use, including online identity, communication etiquette, and rights and responsibilities.
Libraries must actively defend their fundamental values. In times of economic and political unrest, libraries will be challenged to uphold information privacy and intellectual freedom while advocating against policies that undermine public interests and net neutrality.
Advancing innovative services and operations requires a reimagining of organizational structures. Rigid hierarchies are no longer effective. To meet patrons’ needs, libraries must draw from different functional areas and expertise, adopting agile, matrix like paradigms.
Enabled by digital scholarship technologies, the research landscape is evolving. GIS data, data visualization, and big data are expanding how information is collected and shared. These tools are helping libraries preserve and mine their collections while illuminating collaborative opportunities.
Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are poised to amplify the utility and reach of library services. These emerging technologies can personalize the library experience for patrons, connecting them more efficiently to resources that best align with their goals.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
The following is an update to a project that we posted a while back:
@FC3ARCHITECTURE – Project Under Construction (North Arlington, NJ)
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.
If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Frank Cunha III, AIA
Licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA
I Love My Architect – Facebook
FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
On August 21st, 2017, The College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University hosted an impromptu gathering for
#SolarEclipse2017, which attracted a few dozen spectators and participants utilizing various scientific apparatuses to view the partial solar eclipse in from the new LEED Gold Center for Environmental Life Science Building (nick named CELS for short). (You can see me running around in high speed in my khakis, blue shirt and brief case by clicking here. Working at a University has its perks!)
Not only was it was a fun event – It was great to see such a great crowd and camaraderie from a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It was a great opportunity for the campus community to come together for a great event. Science and the natural world connects us all and reminds us that we are not that different when it comes to who we are as human beings.
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College Hall is where the history and the future of Montclair State meet. It’s where every student’s college journey begins with Undergraduate Admissions and ends with the submission of their final audit to the Office of the Registrar for graduation.
College Hall is where it all started. Back in 1903, the New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton could no longer support New Jersey’s growing need for qualified teachers by itself, so the state approved plans for a new normal school to serve northern New Jersey. (A normal school was a post-secondary school devoted to training teachers.) And in 1908, the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair admitted its first students.
College Hall’s Spanish mission-style architecture, which was adopted for other buildings on campus, was the inspiration of benefactor Edward Russ, a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education who liked buildings he saw on a trip to California. So he integrated the style into plans for College Hall, complete with red-tile roofs—a look that lives on in campus construction today.
In the beginning, College Hall housed almost everything—administrative offices, classrooms, a library and a gym. Today, it is Montclair State’s administrative hub, housing the offices of the President and the Provost, University Advancement, Admissions, the Registrar, the Graduate School and more.
Dedicated to the first president of Montclair State, Charles S. Chapin, in 1928, it is one of the original buildings of the Montclair State Normal School. This former residence hall was renovated in 1974, and again in 2009, and is now the home of the John J. Cali School of Music. The Leshowitz Recital Hall is also located in Chapin Hall.
Russ Hall was built in 1915 and served as the first residential facility of the State Normal School at Montclair, now of course known as Montclair State University. Converted at one point to an administrative building and then later renovated back to a residence hall, Russ Hall provides suite-style accommodations for approximately 100 students.
Dedicated to Allan C. Morehead, an alumnus and former professor, executive vice president and provost at Montclair State. Morehead Hall was used as a demonstration high school from 1929 to 1973. It now houses several student support services offices.
A few sketches from my brief trip to Cape May after my triathlon race.
We are sharing a recent project we completed the design and it is currently under construction. As you can see it is quite an expansion to a modest home. We are happy to see it is on schedule and on budget and should be completed this summer.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!