What you'll learn

  • Understand the impacts of changes in higher education, the library profession, and library spaces.

  • Learn about library programming and planning considerations in the academic context.

  • Learn about the space planning process for academic libraries.

  • Test out different design solutions within an academic library context.

Course description

We will think about and test a range of aspects of space planning for academic libraries, including space design, understanding the library’s relationship with the broader institution, trends in academic libraries, and specific impacts on space design.

The pandemic and other external forces, such as economics, online learning, changing pedagogy, and new technologies are changing the ways in which students learn and each of these impacts how academic libraries are evolving their collecting priorities, the space taken up by collections, and new ways spaces are used in our libraries.

This class will focus on the specific aspects of academic libraries and how to think about designing new library spaces in academic institutions that meet the shifts we are experiencing and how our faculty and students are learning. 

The program will begin with a walking tour of two Harvard Library locations. Harvard Library is the network of Harvard University’s libraries and services. Established in 1848, it is the oldest library system in the United States and both the largest academic library and the largest private library in the world. 

We will build a shared understanding of the aspects of academic libraries that are different from other libraries, including the unique external and institutional forces, thinking about library planning in the academic context, and the space planning process in academic institutions. We will test possible design solutions for different scenarios in academic libraries through mini design charettes.

The design activities will allow participants to consider the role of the librarian, the design process, the opportunities in space changes, preparing for space planning, how to engage with larger campus issues that the library can be part of solving, and applying design solutions.

The class is comprised of tours, short lectures and case studies, discussions with instructors and attendees, in-class activities, and design exercises to apply the principles discussed throughout the day.

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