Constructing the Future Library

Beams and Bytes

Constructing the Future Library: Architectural and Digital Considerations

an ALCTS Midwinter Symposium

Friday, January 7, 2011

Changing user expectations and the relentless shift to the digital medium are rapidly influencing library structures and services. No longer just a reference and circulation desk or a static repository for books and journals, the 21st Century library is evolving to accommodate new services, collecting patterns, and user demands. Both presentations and participative activities will focus on the physical and digital infrastructure of libraries, conceiving and creating services to meet user needs and expectations, transforming collections and access, and how all of this will affect the people who work in libraries. Make plans to arrive in San Diego in time for this interesting look at future libraries. oracle database 11 logo

Sponsored by Oracle.

See photos of the results of group work on the ALA Midwinter wiki.


User Experience Design for the New Library
Presented by John Blyberg

As we focus more on how our physical buildings can become centers of the community, so too should we be focusing on the online opportunities.  John Blyberg will talk about Darien Library's user experience design approach to developing an online strategy that compliments their offline efforts and explore the possibilities of how and where the two can overlap.

Digital Stewardship in the 21st-Century Library: The Penn State Experience
Presented by Michael Giarlo and Patricia Hswe

presentation (.pdf)

This talk will focus on how the Penn State Libraries are putting digital curation into practice through a newly established program for stewarding digital data and content. Digital curation is the active management of data and content in digital format, from conceptualization and creation, to access and use, to appraisal and selection, to ingest (such as in an archive or data depository), preservation, and ultimately to reappraisal and reuse. The presenters will describe various activities, including a platform review and a curation microservices testbed that the recently hired Digital Library Architect and Digital Collections Curator have undertaken in developing a programmatic approach to delivering, making usable, and preserving Penn State's digital data and content.

Architectural Considerations for the 21st Century Library
Presented by Jeffrey M. Hoover and Denelle C. Wrightson

presentation (.pdf)

Libraries continue to be built and renovated due to the continuous changes in IT, changes in the expectations of their users and in response to the importance of the library as place. These three influences and the impact of these changes on space and the design of the modern library will be explored using examples and images.

From Academic Library to Academic Commons at Occidental College
Presented by Robert Kieft

Occidental College, a four-year liberal arts college in the city of Los Angeles, has embarked on a planning process that will transform the current library building into an Academic Commons. The building, which was constructed in three stages from the 1920s to the 1970s and whose 1920s component was designed by the famed Southern California architect Myron Hunt, currently houses a typical array of library services and the Center for Academic Excellence as well as the offices and service spaces of ITS and Scholarship Technology staff (ITS, Library, and Scholarship Technology report to the Vice President for Information Resources). Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbot are planning the renovation, and Gene Spencer and Maureen Sullivan are consulting on organizational and work change processes. The renovation will produce a facility and program that will constitute an intellectual center for the College, one that creates a teaching- and learning-centered environment focused on electronic resources and modes of scholarship, houses academic services in support of student and faculty work, and employs a staff who, to a large extent, do not rely on "traditional" models of library and IT organization.

Library Space: Dimensions of the Imagination
Presented by Michael Miller

presentation (.pdf)

For those who can live with ambiguity and who are not risk adverse, these are exciting times to be working in libraries. We are a profession that is reinventing itself and how we do business. The 20th century model of the library is fading and the successful 21st century library model is only beginning to emerge. The impact of technology is radically and permanently changing the nature of our collections, services, and staff and with it our use of space. There is a story evolving about how the creative repurposing of library space is changing the perceptions of the library on campus. How we use this newly recaptured space will re-define and expand our roles and will increase our value to our institutions. What has been happening at Cal Poly is only one story but it may be illustrative of a more generalized movement in the country. Cal Poly’s investment in creating an information commons, cafĂ©, and 24/7 space has lead to an active exhibit and speakers series, partnerships with colleges, appreciation from faculty and students, requests from the Provost to take on new responsibilities, and a strategic plan that embraces the community. This is more than a story about space.

Parallel Library Universes: A Case for Feverish Pink Paint and Virtual Vortexes
Presented by Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson

presentation (.pdf)

Are we finally on the verge of Wilf Lancaster's "paperless society" and Hugh Atkinson's "library without walls?" Or are we merely making incremental changes around the edges of library space? While iconic library facades remain, the space inside is being repurposed and repunctuated with high tech and high touch, coffee and chatter, and maybe a wall or two painted "feverish pink." At the same time, we're constructing virtual spaces in which first content, then services, and now interaction have the potential to create a vortex of intellectual exchange. Are we creating parallel library universes that have coherence, context, and value, or that are schizophrenic and unsustainable? This closing keynote will address these questions and examine the physical and virtual manifestations of the University of Washington's new Research Commons as a case study. The Research Commons emerged from a user-driven, highly iterative, charette-based, assessment-enabled, collaborative design and implementation, and may be instructive for other environments and situations.

Speaker Bios    

john blybergJohn Blyberg

Blyberg is the Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience at the Darien Library in Connecticut. He was formerly the System Administrator and Lead Developer for the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan. Prior to working in libraries, John was the IT manager for the North American office of the British car company, Lotus Engineering. He is an open source software advocate and considers unfettered collaboration and participation the primary intent of information technology. To that end, he has authored a number of open source projects, including SOPAC, Locum, and Insurge, a social catalog application suite that allows libraries to focus holistically on digital strategy. Blyberg was named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker,” took first prize in Talis’ 2006 “Mashing-up the Library” competition, and speaks nationally and internationally about libraries, user experience, innovation, and technology. John has also received the 2009 LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award for his work on the SOPAC Application Suite. He has written for Library Journal, American Libraries, has contributed chapters to several published books, and blogs at Blyberg is proud to work with a first-class group of people at Darien Library where they have just opened a brand new, state-of-the-art library. In December, 2008, he formed the User Experience department to completely redefine how customer service and interaction is handled and delivered to library staff and users.    

Michael Giarlo and Patricia Hswe

michael giarlo patricia hswe

Giarlo is Digital Library Architect at the Pennsylvania State University, designing a technical architecture for an institutional digital stewardship program. He has been working in library technology since 1999, holding systems administration and software development positions at Rutgers University Libraries, the University of Washington Libraries, Princeton University Library, and the Library of Congress. He earned both a bachelor's degree and an MLIS at Rutgers. He sometimes answers to "Art Vandelay."'

Hswe is the Digital Collections Curator at the Penn State University Libraries, where she is based in Scholarly Communications and the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing. Her job is largely about making sure the Libraries' digital content and data are findable, accessible, and usable. To these ends, she focuses on assessment, data/content management, and developing repository-based services for deposit of research data. She is also involved in a research project tracking scholarly engagement with special collections and archives that have received grant funding under the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) program, "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Building a New Research Environment." Hswe came to librarianship by way of the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship in Academic Libraries. She is a 2008 graduate of the MSLIS degree program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale.    

Jeffrey Hoover and Denelle Wrightson

denelle wrightson jeffrey

Hoover specializes in programming, planning and design of learning environments, with particular focus on libraries, as well as master plans and feasibility studies for colleges and universities. He is actively involved with architectural conferences and symposiums throughout the country, speaking on topics that include future libraries, historic renovations and additions, and the influence of technology on the practice of architecture. Since 1999 he has been an instructor for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design’s Office of Executive Education, teaching Library Planning and Design. Hoover regularly presents seminars and lectures for the annual Traditional Building Conference, for American Library Association national conferences, for the New England Library Association Conference, and the Boston Society of Architects Annual Convention. He has been frequently quoted in Library Journal and Library-by-Design relative to emerging trends and innovations in library planning and design. An active member of the Library Leadership & Management Association’s Buildings & Equipment Section, Architecture for Public Libraries Committee since 2001, Hoover served as the committee’s chair for 2009/2010.

Wrightson is the Director of Library Architecture at PSA-Dewberry, where she has worked for 16 years; she had 13 year experience prior to joining PSA-Dewberry. Throughout her 29 year career, Wrightson has specialized in the planning and design of libraries. She has served as Principal-In-Charge, Project Manager, Planner, Programmer, Designer and/or Interior Designer for more than 150 library projects. This experience, coupled with six years of employment in libraries has provided her with a unique understanding of user needs. Wrightson is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is also in national and local library associations including the Public Library Association and the Library Leadership & Management Association. She serves on the LLAMA/BES Architecture for Public Libraries Committee and has participated in a number of Library Journal’s Design Institutes as both a presenter and panelist.    

Robert (Bob) Kieft

robert kieftKieft is College Librarian, Occidental College. Prior to moving to Occidental in the fall of 2008, he worked for 20 years at Haverford College, where he was Director of College Information Resources and Librarian of the College prior to his departure. From 1974-1988, he worked at Stanford University Library in public services and collection development. A member of RUSA/CODES, he has held a number of positions in RUSA and in CODES, including Chair (2000/2001). He was General Editor of ALA’s Guide to Reference from 2000-2008 and is now a consulting editor; he has published articles and reviews in Choice, ARBA, College and Research Libraries, Reference Services Quarterly, and Reference Services Review and is currently a member of the Choice editorial board. In Pennsylvania, he pursued interests in cooperative collections work as a board member of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries and as a board member and convener of a task force on cooperative collection initiatives in the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc. He is currently a member of the Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST) planning group and worked with a team under the auspices of LYRASIS to hold in October 2010 an IMLS-funded workshop that created a national framework for library cooperation on legacy print monographs.    

Michael D. Miller

michael millerMiller is Dean of Library Services at Cal Poly State University and Chair of CalState's Council of Library Directors and is a member of the Western Storage Trust (WEST) planning committee. Previously, he was Director of the Arts and Engineering Libraries and Co-Director of the Duderstadt Center at the University of Michigan. He is the former head of the Undergraduate Library at Stanford University and the former head of the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media at NYU. In addition, Mike has 14 years of experience in public and regional library systems and is a former member of the New York State Council on the Arts Film Panel. He has a M.P.S. in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University and a M.S. in Library & Information Science from Long Island University.    

Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson

betsey wilsonWilson has served as the Dean of University Libraries at the University of Washington since 2001. Prior to being selected Dean she was the Associate Director of Libraries for Research and Instructional Services since 1992. Previously, she was Head of the Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has held numerous leadership positions in the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries, including member of ALA Council and ACRL President. She has been a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees since 2000, chairing the Board from 2004-2007. She currently is chair-elect of the Orbis Cascade Alliance and a member of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Board. She has served on the Association of Research Libraries Board and the Digital Library Federation Executive Committee. She is a past Chair of the Greater Western Library Alliance. She presents and publishes widely on the topics of teaching and learning in libraries; assessment and evaluation; digital library services; global research libraries; and educational and cross-sector collaborations. She is the recipient of the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award, the Margaret E. Monroe Award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. With her UWired colleagues, she received the inaugural EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning. Her library was selected as the 2004 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award recipient. She holds an M.L.S. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.A. from Northwestern University.