Characteristics of the 21st-century library

By Ashley Litzenberger

Many colleges and universities are renovating the library environment around the concept of the “learning commons.” These settings reflect next-generation trends in library space planning, including:

  • Fewer physical resources
  • Flexible, modular learning environments
  • Wireless connectivity and outlet access
  • Integrated academic support services
  • Food and drink options

Repurposing the warehouse

To better accommodate the modern needs of users, libraries are tailoring their design and facility strategy to their students’ increasingly social approach to learning and studying. Facility renovations often opt for large, public tables and couches to create comfortable, collaborative spaces.

Read the full study: Redefining the Academic Library

The modern learning commons provides a variety of multimedia tools for students and faculty who want to explore alternative modes of scholarship. Campus members are also able to access relevant academic content digitally, either at computer terminals or on mobile devices. The newly allocated space typically includes a café accompanied by relaxed food and drink restrictions.

In addition, related academic support units such as student advising and specialized math, writing and language labs, as well as technical support services, often share space in these new facilities, which provides students with a “one-stop shop” for academic assistance.

Libraries have become more flexible, which allows users greater control over its utilization and configuration. What was once a warehouse for books can over time become a vibrant hub of activity as the library building transitions into the intellectual center of campus.

Top Trends in Next-Generation Library Space Planning

Repurposing the warehouse

Learn why libraries are not the only space undergoing change

Office space is growing faster than other type of campus space, but remains one of the most underutilized. Discover best practice strategies you can implement to improve office space utilization, such as enforceable no-office protocols and voluntary office withdrawal incentives. Download the excerpt

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Redefining the Academic Library

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