Transforming Academic Library Spaces

Transforming Academic Library Spaces: an evaluation study of Deakin University Library at the Melbourne Burwood Campus using TEALS

Authors: Dr Neda Abbasi, Deakin University
Professor Hisham Elkadi, Deakin University
Anne Horn and Sue Owen, Deakin University Library

Libraries worldwide are transforming their spaces to better align with the changing needs of their communities. The aim of this paper is to outline the process and outcome of an evaluation study of transformed academic library spaces at the Melbourne Burwood Campus using TEALS. In light of changing higher education practices and students learning preferences, Deakin University has been questioning the balance of informal learning spaces and more formal teaching and academic spaces across its campuses. Commissioned by Deakin University Library, TEALS (Tool for the Evaluation of Academic Library Spaces) was developed to evaluate academic library spaces. The Melbourne Burwood Campus library has undergone several phases of refurbishment to create a library environment that is centred around students’ needs and that supports their individual and group learning experiences. In addition, areas of the library yet to be improved will undergo a major redevelopment over the next year. Given this, carrying out an evaluation of the current spaces is timely to ensure that a better understanding of the impact of changes is achieved. The evaluation process involved: a review of architectural plans and space briefing documents; an observational study of spaces; focus groups with students and library staff; and an online survey of Students’ Library Experience. Use of the TEALS space evaluation tool along with an analysis of data collected during the evaluation process have provided significant insights into various dimensions of the quality of new library spaces. The areas of weakness and strength identified in the study will inform the next phase of Deakin University Library space redevelopment.