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Teaching Through Space Design: The Symbolic Power of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century

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These slides were presented at the CLIC: Cooperating Libraries in Consortium event on April 12, 2016 at Hamline University's Anderson Center in Minnesota.

Abstract of Talk:
Miller discusses the ways in which our beliefs about learning and research — and the role librarians can play in those processes — are symbolized in the ways we choose to plan and design library spaces. Drawing on her experiences at UVA, UCLA and the University of Miami, she will share examples of library space planning and renewal that are creating new opportunities for librarians to engage in new ways with faculty and students. In particular, she will offer practical tips on how library space can embody key concepts in the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework) and spur growth and transformation of library reference and instructional services. By teaching intentionally through space design, libraries — and librarians — can increase the significance of their roles in the learning and research processes at their colleges and universities.

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Teaching Through Space Design: The Symbolic Power of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century

  1. 1. Teaching Through Space Design: The Symbolic Power of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century Kelly Miller April 12, 2016 Members of a photography club at the University of Miami advertising their club’s activities at an annual “Involvement Fair” on the Foote Green outside Richter Library.
  2. 2. WARM-UP ACTIVITY
  3. 3. Library as “BrainSpa” “Splatter,” a student organization at the University of Miami, donated chalkboard boxes to help furnish a prototype “BrainSpa” at Richter Library, where students can engage in creative activities that provide inspiration and stress relief.
  4. 4. Learning is personal and social Kelly Miller reflected on her experience playing youth soccer in the early ‘80s and what it taught her about learning. Audience participants also were given an opportunity to reflect on their own learning experiences.
  5. 5. “We propose that educational environments are most powerful when they offer students these fundamental conditions: a feeling of inclusion and a sense of security, engaging mechanisms for involvement, and the experience of community.” C. Carney Strange and James H. Banning, Designing for Learning: Creating Campus Environments for Student Success, 2nd ed. (2015).
  6. 6. LECTURE (WITH PICTURES AND STORIES)
  7. 7. Your questions: • How can library space design enhance scholarship? • How can the library’s “curriculum” – that is, our instructional goals – be incorporated into the library’s physical spaces?
  8. 8. Learning Together The University of Miami’s new president, Dr. Julio Frenk, learns how to “throw the U” from students. In our new culture of learning, experts and novices often exchange roles.
  9. 9. “Only when we care about experimentation, play, and questions more than efficiency, outcomes, and answers do we have a space that is truly open to the imagination.” Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, A New Culture of Learning (2011)
  10. 10. THREE FRAMES (Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education) • Research as Inquiry • Scholarship as Conversation • Information Creation as a Process
  11. 11. STORY 1
  12. 12. Mr. Jefferson’s University & the Library In the early 19th-century, Thomas Jefferson designed a university as an “academical village,” in which faculty and students inhabited and studied together in the same environment. Jefferson positioned a library – not a church – at the head of this “academical village.”
  13. 13. Learning is lifelong and hybrid Students at the University of Virginia have the opportunity to engage directly with original sources in both physical and digital forms in the context of the library. In the image on the right, students view a digitized version of a Dunlap Broadside, the first reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVA.
  14. 14. STORY 2
  15. 15. Powell Library @ UCLA Named after the second university librarian, Powell Library at UCLA is the university’s original library and is located at the heart of the campus. It serves primarily undergraduate students, but is open to all in the university community.
  16. 16. “General Education” UCLA undergraduate students have the opportunity to fulfill their general education requirements by completing a series of three courses that makes up a “Freshman Cluster.” The UCLA Library developed a program that embeds librarians in the teaching teams of the Clusters to advance research skills.
  17. 17. A key goal of UCLA undergraduate education is to engage students in the research activities of the university. The Freshman Clusters provide an entry point into the research community’s interdisciplinary activities on challenging questions.
  18. 18. Research as Inquiry Mapping research questions gives students the chance to imagine different approaches to a static “topic.” This type of exercise supports one of the key threshold concepts in the new Framework for Information Literacy: Research as Inquiry, literally, the asking of questions, in order to pursue answers.
  19. 19. In 2012, the UCLA Library created the Inquiry Labs in Powell Library to support a peer-to-peer, consultation-based approach to research skills support with strong linkages to the Writing Center. This new learning environment provided a fresh approach to the traditional reference desk model and has served to increase use of library research services.
  20. 20. Welcome Reconsidering the way that students are welcomed into Powell Library was critical to achieving the vision of the Inquiry Labs. Instead of being greeted by a security guard, visitors are now welcomed by student employees.
  21. 21. Peer-to-peer with expert assistance nearby The Inquiry Labs offer research consultations provided by peers, who have been trained by librarians and graduate students in the Information School. The expert trainers remain present in the consultation area, so that peer consultants have back-up support when needed.
  22. 22. Writing Center vs. Reference Desk At UCLA Library, we learned that the Writing Center was much more successful than the Library’s traditional Reference Desk. Why? We concluded that the Writing Center was more successful because it robustly advertises its services, allows users to schedule an appointment, and provides space for consultations that is conducive to conversation. Slide Credit: Doug Worsham
  23. 23. Learning from the Writing Center, we designed a research consultation space that includes round tables, chairs, and access to laptops and monitors.
  24. 24. Round tables + Scheduled & Drop-in appointments = More conversations about research and writing
  25. 25. Scholarship as Conversation Another threshold concept in the Framework for Information Literacy is “Scholarship as Conversation.” The Inquiry Labs model this concept with the design of the physical space: a space conducive for conversation that occurs over an extended period of time, with access to trained peers and experts, and technology that encourages collaboration.
  26. 26. New Consultation Service Model In the first pilot phase of the Inquiry Labs’ launch, the number and length of research consultations jumped tremendously. Slide Credit: Doug Worsham
  27. 27. We also learned that students were willing to use the service again and were interested in recommending the service to a friend.
  28. 28. In 2016, students trained to be peer research consultants are now embedded in the General Education Freshman Cluster classes at UCLA.
  29. 29. STORY 3
  30. 30. University of Miami Libraries Learning Commons
  31. 31. “General Education” through “Cognates” Students at the University of Miami fulfill their general education credits through “cognates,” a group of three related courses.
  32. 32. Fostering “self-directed” learning Students are encouraged to search for appropriate cognates by entering key words that reflect their personal interests and passions.
  33. 33. An opportunity to innovate UMiami’s Dean of Undergraduate Education, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dean of Libraries saw an opportunity to replace outdated resources and shelving on the first floor of the University’s main library and replace it with a ”Learning Commons.” The Commons enables coordination of academic services to support self-directed learning promoted in General Education and more broadly in the curriculum.
  34. 34. project process * = key milestone The University of Miami engaged brightspot consultants to develop a multi-staged participatory planning process for the Learning Commons.
  35. 35. Visioning Studio The outdated shelving was removed from the library and a “Visioning Studio” for the future Learning Commons was created. On this new “platform,” brightspot led workshops with students, faculty and others to envision the new Learning Commons.
  36. 36. 0 1 2 3 4 5 Self-guided w ith online resources /tutorials A ttend one-tim e events /w orkshops Enrollin a w orkshop series Participate in a sm allgroup session C onsultindividually Interactonline (one-on-one) RatingAverage WHAT DO THEY NEED TO SUCCEED? ACCORDING TO STUDENTS THEMSELVES The user survey and intercept interviews show that Communication skills Time management, study, and reading skills Software skills Research skills Subject knowledge To succeed in their courses Leadership skills Graphic design skills ACCORDING TO FACULTY Communication skills Critical reading and thinking skills Research skills Digital literacy Independence and perseverance Collaboration skills Creative thinking morementionsfewermentions HOW DO STUDENTS LIKE TO LEARN?HOW DO STUDENTS LIKE TO LEARN? Learning a new skill note: a lower rating is better Preferences for consultations Peer expert 17% Grad / faculty / staff expert 45% No preference 38% Brightspot found that students and faculty agreed on many of the needs of students, including the need to improve communication, digital and creativity skills.
  37. 37. Communicate research in new ways A University of Miami graduate student in music performance presents her research on a 2 century musician and performs examples of her work as part of the presentation. This eve took place in the Weeks Music Library at the University of Miami.
  38. 38. Create, collaborate, play Students in the Interactive Media program at Miami demonstrate game they have designed as part of a course taught at the School of Communication. This event took place in the Visioning Studio of the future Learning Commons.
  39. 39. Experiment and build Students working in the Visioning Studio on an assignment for an Engineering class.
  40. 40. Work across disciplines Students at the University of Miami often choose to study multiple disciplines at a time. In this instance, a student of digital photography is also a student of marine biology.
  41. 41. Address pressing questions Students in the School of Communication work with students at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences to address pressing questions relating to climate change and visualize the results of research in new ways.
  42. 42. Embracing diversity Students in the School of Architecture are given a unique first assignment: research and depict their hometown city. Here is one example reflecting the diverse origins of University of Miami students.
  43. 43. The University of Miami’s Learning Commons aims to support the entire learning and research lifecycle: from discovery and exploration to conducting research individually and collaboratively, and from writing and presenting to sharing and publishing.
  44. 44. Library Research Scholars Program A signature program of the new Learning Commons is the Library Research Scholars Program, which gives top students the opportunity to conduct a project of their own design guided by library faculty mentors.
  45. 45. Information Creation as a Process As part of the program, students describe their own visions of the research process. The results reveal the students’ deep understanding of another threshold concept in the new Framework for Information Literacy: information creation is a process that takes time, resources, and involves interaction with people.
  46. 46. 2015-2016 Library Research Scholars Seven undergraduate students participated in the Library Research Scholars program this year. Their projects ranged from the curation of physical and online exhibits to the creation on online research guides and library programs for students.
  47. 47. Library Research Scholars & Librarian Mentors Each of the students are paired with a library faculty member, who provides mentorship throughout the year. This program offers new opportunities for librarians to form meaningful relationships with undergraduate students.
  48. 48. “My Experience as a Library Research Scholar” At the end of the year, the students present their work at a special event attended by deans, faculty, librarians, family, and friends of the students.
  49. 49. WRAP-UP Each of the space-types envisioned for our new Learning Commons – and expressed in the brightspot plan – embodies one or more of the concepts identified in the Framework for Information Literacy. Here are three of the space-types and the concepts they support.
  50. 50. Research as inquiry
  51. 51. Scholarship as a conversation
  52. 52. Information creation as a process
  53. 53. Learning is personal, learning is social. At the beginning of the fall orientation for the Library Research Scholar Program, one of the Library Research Scholars described the research process in this way. One of the poignant aspects of this drawing to me is the loneliness or isolation it expresses – at 5:00 a.m., the student is working by himself as he writes a paper. The Library Research Scholar Program taught him that he is not alone in the process, but instead has a network of support made up of experts including librarians and peers.
  54. 54. Inspiration for this talk was drawing from these books, in particular.
  55. 55. Thank you! Questions? @bibezhik Inspiration for the talk also came from my dog, Pivot, and an anonymous student, who drew this message on the chalk board boxes in our Visioning Studio for our future Learning Commons. Please tweet questions or comments to me @bibezhik

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