Posts categorized "Research" Feed

New Orleans 10 Years After Katrina~An Object Lesson For Planners and Architects

8 Maps of Displacement and Return in New Orleans After Katrina - CityLab (the Atlantic)

You can't plan anything unless you know:

  • where you are,
  • what you've already got
  • and where you want to go‎.

New Orleans hasn't got a handle on any of these criteria 10 years after Katrina. 

Now some individuals are beginning to put a sketchy picture together about where people went, why they didn't come back and what the city looked like before Katrina and ‎what it looks like now.

Lessons to learn from of a real, devastating, human tragedy.



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When 'new' is not 'new'.

The following quote made news this week. I am amazed:

“It's time for a paradigm shift to one in which public leaders engage with their communities and take action based on the voices of their constituents. (And where communities demand that kind of interaction.) So go, get out there, engage your elected and appointed leaders, and use your voice to impact positive change.”

This quote is taken from “100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries -- A New Paradigm for Civic Engagement”, written by Rebecca Fishman Lipsey and “Co-authored by Francine Madera, MADERA inc." as reported in the Huffington Post on-line.  Posted: 01/29/2015 3:53 pm EST Updated: 01/29/2015 3:59 pm EST” 100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries -- A New Paradigm for Civic Engagement | Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

The ideas quoted are indeed ‘great’. I am so pleased you have discovered them, but they are not new. No, Ms. Fishman Lipsey and Ms. Madera, what you write about is not a “New Paradigm”, though I do admit each generation comes to the hard, cold truth in their own time. Congratulations! I hope the librarians who read your article do the research they do so well and discover the know-how, in existence for over 30 years, which leads them through this process that, among many other concepts, includes "Civic Engagement".

Many times have I heard this refrain and for years I have read articles urging librarians to use this or that 'innovative idea' to keep libraries fresh and in touch with their communities.  I am dispirited that intelligent people do not use common sense! Then I battle incredulity over the fact that such a well-educated and seemingly intelligent group of people can remain so ostrich-like in the face of tried-and-true, long used techniques to achieve success as librarians in their communities.

Why make your job difficult? Why reinvent the wheel? Why not use the body of knowledge passed on to you by your colleagues over generations to help you do your work? Perhaps it’s easier to read about ‘new ideas’ than to do the work of recognizing and adopting the planning process that has led to the success of librarians who have delivered truly brilliant and responsive libraries to their communities.

copyright PLAN22

For years, we and our esteemed colleagues have been guiding public librarians in the process of community building and outreach; preparing them to determine their needs and enabling them to talk effectively to their communities, boards and architects. This process includes Strategic Planning and architectural pre-programming.  I will not apologize for saying this even though each generation must come to learn the terminology the hard way.  Sometimes a strategic plan is quite simply a strategic plan. If community based Strategic Planning is not done, you will not achieve the type of library specific to your community's needs. Changing the terminology will not make it any easier to do.

All the issues Ms. Rebecca Fishman Lipsey and Ms. Madera bring up in their article are valid. However all these issues have been around since architects and librarians jointly conceived and built libraries in this modern age. Librarians, please read the vast amount of literature available that guides you, minute by in-depth step, toward a successful library building project. As librarians you have the skills to locate, read, grasp and avail yourself of this information. You have the intelligence and the knowledge to lead your library building project with the full support of your community, lawmakers and users. It is hard, constant, diligent, detailed, attention-demanding work. It is worth it.

The American Library Association (ALA) is open and clear in their support for you and your community to achieve the library that your community needs. The Library Bill of Rights Library Bill of Rights | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues supports all the work needed to achieve not only your library facility but also a satisfied constituency. Architects, Urban Planners, Interior Architects, Landscape Architects and other professional organizations that include the Project Management Institute PMI - the World’s Leading Professional Association for Project Management are resources available to you at every turn, and throughout your project. Use them. Research how these professionals actually do their jobs, you will find that they have the knowledge to support your work.


book cover

Sandra Nelson, of Sandra Nelson Consulting , is the author of Strategic Planning for Results and Implementing for Results: Your Strategic Plan in Action, the current Public Library Association strategic planning how-to book. Strategic Planning for Results - Books / Professional Development - Books for Academic Librarians - Books for Public Librarians - PLA Products - ALA Store 

To quote Ms. Nelson:

“The Strategic Planning for Results process has been refined by 30 years of public library planning experiences and reflects today's best practices. The process takes between three and four months and engages stakeholders from the staff, the board, and the community. The final plan describes the library's service priorities and explains how the staff will measure progress toward meeting those priorities. Creating a strategic plan is just a preliminary step in the real work of moving the library forward.(our emphasis) A plan is of little value unless it is implemented and Implementing for Results: Your Strategic Plan in Action is the most practical tool available to guide your implementation efforts.” 

While it may be exciting for each generation to discover a way of making library spaces better for their communities, it still remains that this process takes energy, research, determination, dedication and plain, hard work. No single news release is going to make it easy for anyone but perhaps it will inspire you to do the work that needs to be done. Good luck!

For a concise, easy to read outline of why you will meet success through tried and true, good old Strategic Planning try quickly reading this document by Ms. Nelson: tab_3_handouts.pdf

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Rethinking architecture | MIT News Office

2014_14July_Mark Goulthorpe_screen grabMark Goulthorpe likes to see the world we occupy as a "physically reciprocal relationship between a person and the environment." Mr. Grulthorpe "teaches and practices new design and construction logics for the next generation of high-performance buildings ... that are not only resilient, economical, and visually stunning, but also offers insights into attaining environmentally benign buildings."

He is centering much of his reasearch on "thermoplastics. As the most benign class of fiber-reinforced polymers, they are rapidly entering broad market applications and hold the possibility to address a growing need. Current MIT estimations have the built environment doubling in the next 20 to 30 years, with the amount of urban housing needed likely to match that built in the previous 6,000 years."


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73% of Americans are 'likely' to ask an on-line librarian for research help.

That's a lot of people who want to use our libraries.

Gather your data while ye may!

In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.


The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older: 

80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.

80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.

77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.

Moreover, a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries

Read the entire report here.

Here's the summary graph. It is interesting to read in the report about how the answers are split among different demographics.

Library_services_infographic PewInternetorg_March2013

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good design is named, flavour of the decade - LEED

Who would do good, sensible design if it weren't named other than a rose? 

I would, I do, but I gather the rest of the world needs a catchy handle. 



As a person who did her design education in the 70's I find this 'already-done-and-got-the-high-heels-like'.   Perhaps some building owners and trustees still haven't heard of any of this so here goes.


International Interest Grows in Green-Building Certification-By,Kate Galbraith. New York Times. Published: March 7, 2012

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Breaking the barriers of time and space: the dawning of the great age of librarians

From the Journal of the Medical Library Association Food for thought.

A great age of librarians is possible, but not guaranteed. We are at the very beginning of the development of a digital culture that parallels the print culture that has been dominant for five hundred years. Innovative and creative librarians have the potential to shape the development of that culture in ways that will truly serve the needs of their communities. (cited with permission)

be Brave~stay Calm~ wait for the Signs

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Dynamic glass technology - SageGlass electronically tintable glass.

Builiding a new library or addition? 

 This dynamic glass (as in not passive energy technology) tints automatically or on demand to control sunlight, without shades or blinds. SageGlass® - SAGE

It takes less electricity to operate 2,000 square feet of SageGlass than it does to power a single 60-watt light bulb.  I think, if you have the will and the resources, this option is well worth a good hard look. 

SageGlass’ electrochromic coating consists of five layers of ceramic material. Applying a low voltage of electricity darkens the coating as lithium ions and electrons transfer from one electrochromic layer to another electrochromic layer.  How it Works - Technology - SAGE

Reversing the voltage polarity causes the ions and electrons to return to their original layer, causing the glass to return to its clear state

This solid-state reaction is controlled through a very low voltage power supply (less than 5V DC). A darkened state enables SageGlass to absorb and radiate away the sun’s unwanted heat and glare. A clear state allows you to maximize daylight and solar energy.

SAGE Electrochromics that can be switched from clear to tinted with the click of a button. The glass can also be programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions.  

Zoning is also an option, meaning that panes that are hit by direct sunlight can tint, while ones receiving indirect sunlight can stay clear. (ref: 4 High-Tech Projects Making Cities More Energy Efficient )

West holiwood library_sageglass

Here is an photo from the SAGEGLASS BLOG: Architecture Review: West Hollywood Library among top works - Uncategorized - Sustainability - Glass in Architecture - Daylighting benefits - Brilliant Views - SAGE



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there's a whole world in there - gaming, can we play and have a future too?

There are three mags that fuel my mind, one I haven't cracked open in decades - Popular Mechanics - but I've substituted well I think, with Scientific America, Science News and WIRED.

I know no essentially nothing about gameing except that many, many people 'play' and learn through participating in games together and individually on and off line.  I've been reading an article in WIRED - August 2011 pg. 097, about Jason Rohrer's 'Chain World' that describes how people are pushing at the edges of the definition of what gaming is.

But I do know a potential trend when I spot it and I think that library use through gaming is something that is worth considering as a very real possibility.  At the very least it is a notion that is being carefully and seriously considered by some librarians as a way to truly engage a generation who carry their lives on a USB flash and a cell phone.  A group of people at the University of Huddersfield in the UK are determined to find out how to capture the imaginations of a highly imaginative generation.

Nod to Locan Dempsey for: Gamification: services and libraries - Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog

Case in point...LEMON TREE LemonTree_25July2011 a project out of University of Huddersfield in the UK

Here's that text so you can read it easily:

"Lemon Tree seeks to increase the use of library resources through a social, game based e-learning platform. Users will register with the system and be able to earn points and rewards for interacting with library resources, such as leaving comments and reviews of library books. Integration with other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook will be built into the system."

To see your potential library future demographic look here: Game Developers Conference | February 28-March 4, 2011 | Moscone Convention Center | San Francisco, California.



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How we get from here to there...signs are not the answer

Can you read a map? Can you find your way back out of a building that you are visiting for the first time?  

Wayfinding is not a skill all of us possess to the same degree.  For instance, I 'see' a building in 3-D; I know that restrooms are usually placed in a building's core - find the elevator - find the restroom. It's a snap.  For me.

Not everyone has this training or 'view'.  We all navigate through the streets and corridors of our days in whatever manner that serves us well and gets us to that important meeting, the elevator, the restroom - the exit!

I am a strong advocate for a clear architectural design that allows the occupants to navigate through a building easily and safely.  I believe that good design is simple and logical design. 

It seems cognitive scientist, Laura Carlson at the University of Notre Dame can back up my 'instinctual' practice with cold hard fact. Laura Carlson, Notre Dame I love it when that happens! She is "figuring out how we can stay un-lost" ...(when we figure out how to get where we want to go.)

WIRED magazine has a short piece about her work (April 2011, pg.38) written by Katherine Gammon.  Check it out.  Ms. Carlson points to various strategies we can use to  find our way through our built environment. We form pictures in our minds of the building and our route or we use a mental bird's eye view.  We navigate by paying attention to objects so we can use them to retrace our steps.  We 'fix' images of objects or intersections in our minds so that we can construct our mind's eye map.

This quote from her work best sums up my approach to design.  I thank her for it.  "If you see handwritten signs pointing you to an exit, that's a good indicator that it's not a well designed building."

When you are designing your library renovation or addition, keep this in mind.  Ask your designer how easily your patrons can find what they are looking for in your library. Man before maze

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Cross Pollination~Demographics for Chairs and Libraries

Communities benefit when someone can help explain to us how different gerations can work together.  Understanding the make up and demands of a multigenerational community makes libraries stronger, valued members of our communities.

Who knew?  I found this piece on TreeHugger. I am a keen furniture design enthusiast; always on the loolout for furniture for new spaces in libraries.What Is The Future Of The Office? Can Boomers and Millenials Mix?

Tellecomuter What's the connection between a presentation by Ginny Baxter,who works in Herman Miller's Applied Knowledge team, and your interests as a librarian?  Seats on chairs and users at libraries - that's what.  Merging Generations in the Workplace

Certainly, this article was inspired by chair design however, demographics research by Herman Miller can help us better serve our communities even if only to rerinforce that what we inuititively 'know' is based in fact. 

This is the link to Ms. Baxter's presentation.

Ginny Baxter of Herman Miller on Demographics from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

Illustration: Ginny Baxter, Herman Miller.


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