Learning and Research
Spaces in ARL Libraries:
Snapshots of Installations
and Experiments
Crit Stuart
earning commons and other spaces to support individual and group
productivity have emerged in the majority of ARL libraries in the past
decade. Respondents to a survey conducted by ARL during the late
winter and early spring of 2008 described their work to provide learning and
research spaces for their constituents.
The survey invited all ARL libraries to describe innovative and noteworthy
experiments in three areas: instructional programs, virtual resource development,
and space initiatives. Of the 123 member libraries, 77 participated in the survey,
for a response rate of 63%. Responses to the first two elements of the survey
(instructional programs and virtual resource development) were summarized in
an earlier article with accompanying database.1
Innovations and noteworthy experiments were defined in the survey as
either “a new service for the library” or “unique in academic librarianship.”
Respondents briefly described the initiatives, provided supporting documents
and URLs, and offered assessment data where it existed. What is new or
innovative for one library may be a standard and long-practiced approach to
space development and programming at another institution. Whatever one’s
perspective, considerable transformation of physical spaces has occurred, with
interest remaining high for ongoing renovations of existing spaces, and for
expanding support to constituents not served in the first iterations.
Libraries demonstrate a strong interest in supplying well-articulated spaces
and services for undergraduate endeavors, and for faculty and graduate research
enterprises. The preponderance of innovative learning spaces in ARL libraries are
for undergraduate students. This may be due to the influence of the first learning
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