The origins of the word technology come from the Greek word techne, meaning art, skill, and cunning of hand. Some keystone examples throughout history include the creation of tools, the ability to control fire, and the invention of the wheel, printing press, telephone and internet. Naturally, the effects of technology are extremely varied and widespread. For academic libraries, one emerging effect of technology is the movement toward inspiring new interior design that makes space more available and inviting to students.
The transition from physical books toward digital content is one factor driving this shift, as libraries are afforded the opportunity to devote more real estate within the building to be utilized by users. In addition, according to consultant on learning spaces Les Watson, “Recognizing that national competitiveness and success relies on an educated and capable population and that libraries are part of a nation’s educational infrastructure gives libraries (of all types) an important role as places of learning. This requires a variety of spaces that match the diversity of learners and their learning activities, underpinned by capable staff, great technology, excellent resources, and timely and accurate understanding of user behavior and satisfaction.” Thus, as many libraries are paring down their physical collections (some by moving books to offsite storage locations), they are also working to create innovative environments that foster imagination as well as concentration.
The topic of interior design is becoming increasingly significant to academic libraries, and more and more libraries invite their students with novel designs. Spaces for interaction and collaboration are designed to draw students into libraries, where they can learn skills and engage in new experiences. As an example of innovative design, Michigan’s Grand Valley State University (GVSU) introduced movable walls and furniture to let students customize the arrangement of their study spaces. This summer GVSU hosted Re-think It: Libraries for a New Age, a conference to bring forward-thinking librarians and designers together to discuss ideas about the future possibilities of the library experience.
While technology is a major driving force, often times, technology also informs the design of these new spaces. North Carolina State University’s beautiful Hunt Library is a great example. According to Time Magazine, “The main floor looks more like a sleek Apple showroom than a stuffy library. And instead of a Genius Bar, there’s an Ask Me alcove, where you can get help on everything from laptops to flash drives.” Another example is Harvard University’s “Labrary,” a pop-up space created by students from the Graduate School of Design. This space features various interactive projects, including edible telegrams built with graham crackers and 3-D icing printers. The dynamic and collaborative space also holds workshops that serve the community. Clearly, technology is affecting many new academic library renovation projects in terms of design and function.
At the heart of this redesign movement is a student-focus. A major goal of these renovation projects often includes aligning the library’s environment with students’ preferences, and providing a space that energizes and engages students. Libraries are also keen on assessing and evaluating their services and technologies to serve students in the most relevant ways. In particular, digital initiatives are becoming an increasing area of focus, as the right strategy can enhance students’ library experience when they are off-site, in the same way that a well-designed space complements it while they are in the building.
With a Boopsie custom mobile app, students can interact with library resources in the intuitive way students prefer. According to a 2012 study from Purdue University, students strongly expressed that they preferred apps to Web browsers on their phones, stating native apps are both faster and simpler to use. By offering a streamlined app to access library resources and services, a library can offer their catalog and databases for students to access in they way prefer.
Over 4,000 libraries worldwide utilize custom Boopsie apps for their users. Contact Boopsie for more information about how academic libraries can foster innovation and provide lasting value to students. Demos of academic library apps can be scheduled here.