RLI 284 12 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 Library Space Assessment: Focusing on Learning Joan K. Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information Kim Duckett, Associate Head, Digital Technologies and Learning, Research and Information Services, North Carolina State University Libraries Introduction T he months, or even years, of the building renovation project are over, students have overrun the bright, redesigned library space, and the renovation is acclaimed by all a success. It is common to hear many librarians note that their building renovation project is a success, and the evidence for that is almost always the same: the building is full of students who seem pleased with the space and accoutrements the renovated library has become a great space to study, to socialize, and to work collaboratively.1 In this era of accountability, is the fact that the library is now full of students enough to justify the generally hefty resources invested in the library renovation? Even if there is no pressure from the university administration to justify the expense of the renovation, are there opportunities to use the renovation to demonstrate the value of the library to the university’s teaching and learning program and to showcase how the library contributes to campus life? While academic libraries support the research mission of the university as well as its teaching and learning mission, many library renovations today focus on providing new types of learning spaces for students, especially undergraduates. Most faculty, as a result of the move to digital content accessible on the desktop from offices, lab, or home, do not regularly come to the library facility, and many graduate students seek traditional, quiet spaces in the library for their work. Library renovations generally focus on providing new types of collaborative, technology-rich spaces for students, developing learning or information commons in prominent areas, and some add campus services to support student success, such as the writing center, into that space. We often call these spaces “learning spaces,” but we do not have a good understanding of exactly whether and how renovated library spaces support broad institutional goals for student learning. Scott Bennett explored this issue in an article that attempts “to measure how campus spaces distinctively foster learning.”2 His work draws on specific learning behaviors identified in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) treated later in this article. Bennett’s work is an example of the type of deeper analysis of the assessment of renovated library spaces—along with the associated services, technologies, and content provided there—that is needed by the profession. Thinking about Library Space Assessment The “Library Space Assessment: Bringing the Focus to Teaching and Learning”3 workshop, held at the Library Assessment Conference in November 2012, was designed to help participants think more deeply about connecting completed space renovation assessment to student learning. Prior to attending the workshop, participants were asked to list some themes related to learning that were important issues in their institution. Some key topics identified included:
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