The Long and Winding Road to an Integrated Service Point


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One of the presentations from a program called "Where Did the Money Go?!: Understanding Hidden Expenses That Derail Small Scale Renovations". It was coordinated by LLAMA BES at ALA Annual 2010 (June 26, 2010).

Many library leaders will find themselves planning a remodel of library space. Whether repurposing for a new use or just improving function and aesthetics, a limited budget can be eaten up by existing building issues: HVAC problems, asbestos abatement, interruption of systems, or simple staging logistics. Experts will share with attendees what to watch for, what questions to ask, and how to plan to anticipate these considerations so that project goals are met.

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  • Where Did the Money Go?!: Understanding Hidden Expenses That DerailSmall Scale Renovations
  • I will describe a brief story today about a library renovation project which illustrates some of the challenges one may face undertaking this type of project. Some of you may have faced similar roadblocks in your own projects. The building opened in 1967 when the university realized a need to bring all of the separate campus dept libraries into one: The George C. Gordon Library, wasn’t the intention but what the university needed at the time, after we received a bequest of $5 million from the Ohio businessman and distinguished alumnus George Crompton Gordon (Class of 1895). Like many others of this vintage, there have been a few resurfacings over the years but time was due to take a look at the service area and ask our users for input.
  • Before my time at WPI, a 2001 planning group unveiled a master plan that suggested relocation of the IT helpdesk, group spaces for student study, and future improvements needed for the WPI Library.In 2001 the firm Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbot was engaged to complete a master plan study of the facility and its potential.In 2003 staff worked with users to define criteria and specifications for the new space(s) and later in 2004 the vision for an integrated service desk emerged. The vision which is currently realized embeds research & instruction librarians out onto the campus and into the classroom and we have trained our talented upper level students to assist at our merged desk as Reference Student Assistants.
  • from our users we learned we needed to Shiftgears--- as technology and our faculty & students needs changed we realized we needed more group spaces, more technology suites, support for multimedia projects and more importantly to streamline our services into one desk. As we worked more with faculty and our one-on-one & small group research consultations demand increased, the staff needed office spaces. The front line user services librarians were indeed front line. We had desks (not cubes, but desks) out in the midst of the public areas on our main entrance level.NOTES: What we learned we needed:Improved space for users Create space for noisy study Open up views to windows Multiple computing configurationsOffice space for staff Better space for users to meet with reference staff: in-office and at service desk Quiet, secure space for staff to workBetter signage Identify catalog machines Identify service functions Identify floors and what is on themBetter visibility Easily identified service point(s) Improved sightlines: staff to staff; service points to users; office space to service points; staff to entry for safety/security concerns
  • Project description and project goals- create merged information desk & improve look & appeal of main entrance level- relocate user services staff to better utilize spaces that are in low demand & relocate computer lab to a slightly larger space on the third floor - a/v room was dark, has MF machines & rarely used materials - pre-shelving area – another space on our main level that we decided to do away with - relocate and expand number of computers in public areas on main entrance levelReassess reference collection & obtain attractive counter height shelving (we cut our reference collection in half, most of the materials were relocated into the circulating collection, storage, or withdrawn which allowed us to make more spaces for students and improve sightlines and take advantage of natural lighting
  • NUMBERS/Budget Info Below from Doc dated 10/2003  Criteria/Specifications for the User Services Space Plan Visibility ConsiderationsSignage neededMerged desk to provide one focal pointILL – closer to front so easier to seeReference stacks, somewhere where they do not block views Proximity ConsiderationsService desk should be by entrancePre-shelving should be near circPre-shelving should be near preservationCirc should be closer to the entrance than referenceCirc and ILL should be near one another (both access functions; both have pick-up items for users, etc.)Reference staff offices should have line sight to service deskSight lines (other) – circulation to reference; reference to PACs; circulation to PACs; Circ to entranceNoise areas near other noise areas and vice versa User Space ConsiderationsLower service counter for disabled neededBetter space for users to meet with reference staff – both in-office and at the service deskDesignated cell-phone use areaStaff accessibility for users working elsewhere in the building (e.g. direct phone line, kiosk, web conferencing, etc., are possibilities)Convenience and workability of PACs configurationMulti-use study/lounge/café/even PACs sort of area near entrance? General Comfort ConsiderationsLighting – e.g. above the service desk and in A/V room (a short-term need)HVAC – consider locations of new walls or removal of walls that might create cold or hot spots in the buildingInviting spaces needed – service desk should be attractive and work well for both users and staff (several criteria specific to this need enumerating)Noise – comfortable levels for both users and staff – general noise ok, but annoying or disruptive noise should be minimized.Safety issues – relate to all of the above, plus physical security in work spaces for users and staff Non-Library Facilities Considerations (e.g. the Movie Lab, etc.)Clear signage about name of space and support for spaceCreate accessibility avenues to ATC, CCC staff, similar to what might be created to connect users elsewhere in the library to staff on main floor?--Faculty Focus Group: useful feedback on signage,expressed desire for café and “greeter at door” like at Verizon store. They reiterated need for more private spaces for reference staff.
  • Budget framed through annual university capital request cycle -Budget approved for two-year phased funding; architect and campus Facilities partners brought in; plans drawn up; - Concerns raised regarding HVAC circulation and demolition of walls due to asbestos in the ceiling - high costs for the asbestos and HVAC issues and that they were a surprise and revealed as the design solution and discussions with contractors unfolded.  -2nd year funding dropped due to the economy at the time -Campus Facilities indicate the remaining funds should be used to rectify the building HVAC issues once and for all - However – campus facilities has a campus upgrade budget of course, so this partnership opened up the ability to recarpet the entire main entrance level (not in original plan)
  • unexpected building issues (asbestos abatement for some areas, other areas the ceilings were not touched) funds for part of the project diverted to support HVAC improvements as well as for abatement initial plan would have designed offices all the way to where the listening rooms still exist today - information desk was still redesigned with reduced funds
  • Back in 2003 faculty from the focus group expressed a desire for café and “greeter at door” like at Verizon store. By August we’ll have a café …. As for the greeter, we try to train our students at the desk customer service skills
  • plans trimmed due to refocus on HVAC & economy are there other big picture upgrades I am missing? Overall lighting still an issue, we had hoped for a drop ceiling over our infodesk, adding a bit more pizzazz
  • 2009 – we were able to get our leaky roof fixed, after years of documentation, alerting campus facilities ….
  • & stay tuned as we also hope to green our library w/solar panels in the future.
  • The Long and Winding Road to an Integrated Service Point

    1. 1. The Long and Winding Road to an Integrated Service Point<br />Christine Drew Manager, Instruction & OutreachGordon Library<br />
    2. 2.
    3. 3. This Journey Begins <br />
    4. 4. From Users We Learned We Needed …<br />Improved spaces for users: need for “noisy” study, open views to windows, multiple computer configurations<br />Improved spaces for staff: in-office & service desk<br />Better signage: identify areas for users<br />Better visibility & lighting: identifiable service areas & sightlines<br />
    5. 5. The Vision: Integrated Service Point<br />
    6. 6. Service Area Design Process<br />
    7. 7. Unexpected Fork in the Road<br />University capital request approved for 2-year phased project<br />Architect (R.L. Whipple) and WPI Facilities partners <br />Concerns: HVAC circulation & asbestos <br />2nd year funding dropped due to economy <br />Funds redirected to building HVAC<br />Revised plans for merged desk and offices emerge<br />
    8. 8. One of the Many Revisions<br />
    9. 9. Service Area Design Process<br />
    10. 10. New Merged Desk<br />Before<br />After<br />After<br />After<br />
    11. 11. OLD<br />NEWInformation Desk (reference side & new staff offices)<br />
    12. 12. AV Room > Staff Offices<br />Before<br />After<br />
    13. 13. Peaks<br />On the upside… <br />Building HVAC issues addressed<br />Integrated service desk implemented <br />A revised plan for staff offices was implemented<br />More spaces for students & future design of that area<br />Entire main entrance level re-carpeted <br />
    14. 14. Valleys<br />On the down …<br /><ul><li>Vision > Reality > Moment of Truth with hidden expenses
    15. 15. Built fewer offices than needed, ILL squeezed into small space
    16. 16. Most of the new offices lack privacy
    17. 17. Lack of funds to improve overall lighting </li></li></ul><li>A Few Things to Consider<br />Keep dreaming and gathering input to create the library your users want and need.<br />Seriously consider when to renovate vs. when to rebuild.<br />Determine what makes most sense at your institution.<br />Engage with your partners & do what’s best for users.<br />Are small, phased, facelift projects worth it? <br />If building issues exist, be prepared for a rocky ride.<br />
    18. 18. Moving Right Along: Info Commons <br />By August 2010 for details<br />
    19. 19. This Journey Ends (for now)<br /> Christine DrewManager, Instruction & Outreach - Gordon Library cdrew@wpi.edu508.831.6163<br />
    20. 20. WPI<br />Founded in 1865 as Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science as nation's third-oldest private independent technological university <br />More than 50 project-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, social sciences, and humanities and arts<br />3160 undergraduates/1309 graduate students/314 faculty<br />