RLI 284 Library Space Assessment: Focusing on Learning 14 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 28 At the heart of this needs-assessment research is a movement toward participatory design practices, whereby those stakeholders driving design decisions involve end users in the design process. The questions shaping such research focus on what users need in order to get work done and/or preferences for spaces, technologies, and collaboration. Although this kind of needs-assessment work is critical to creating library learning spaces that respond to user needs, demonstrating clearer links between student learning and a space after the renovation (i.e., post-occupancy) requires moving beyond preferences and figuring out, “Do they like it?” (i.e., user satisfaction). It means focusing on different research questions and making connections between departmental, college, and campus priorities for teaching and learning. National trends related to student learning assessment may also inform the assessment planning process. Developing an Assessment Plan for a Library Renovation or Building Project The role of assessment in the overall planning of a learning space is covered well in the Learning Space Toolkit.6 As the library begins to think about how to shape an assessment plan, a first consideration should be which partners to bring into the process. Identifying assessment experts within the institution and soliciting their advice and input can be especially useful. These professionals may also be able to link the library’s programs to ongoing assessments in other units of the university, such as the student success program, the undergraduate education office, the undergraduate research program, etc. In developing a plan, there are many considerations a library may want to pursue, such as student study behavior in a needs-assessment phase, or user satisfaction and use of technologies in the post-occupancy phase. The information gathered from these efforts may be useful in shaping a facility that is popular with users. However, we suggest that libraries can do more to demonstrate what they contribute to the institution’s teaching and learning program through some of the outcomes of library renovations if they approach assessment with a broader mindset. Some guiding questions to consider early in the development of an assessment plan include: What elements of the renovation will support important learning goals for the institution? What curricular initiatives in departments or colleges would benefit from the availability of new facilities, technologies, and services in the library? What elements of the library renovation and newly configured services would support student success? How does the library encourage student engagement with learning? What audiences does the library want to reach with the outcomes of the assessment program? Thinking through these questions will help sharpen the focus of the project and encourage the planning group to consider shaping new services and adding new technologies along with planning the renovated or new library space. Such questions also require thinking carefully about campus priorities as reflected in its strategic plan and connecting with campus stakeholders—deans, faculty, learning technologists,
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