Library space in a digital world

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about the positive impact that changing our physical spaces can have, not just on the student experience (which is, of course, critical to us) but also on the way we work, how we deliver our services and the environment we aim to create for all.

University - Manchester day 1

I wrote an earlier blog post on how place-making is achieved and how important it is to combine people, space and processes during decision making to achieve the greatest benefits of any physical development. So, referring to my first point, it’s clear that physical changes can have a profound impact but we must look at how to leverage even greater outcomes by including human factors and the processes we use in these spaces.

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Take for instance the new Mitie Connected Workspace in the Shard. An office, yes, but from what I’ve looked at and read online, it fuses people with space and processes (processes which are mainly driven by new technology). And what about library spaces? Well, at the Eddie Davies Library we looked at the design of the space, new processes for the delivery customer services and (e.g. self-service machines) and how this supported the front line team’s new way of working. I would say that the holistic view of people, space and processes, whereby you aim to find the ‘sweet spot’ in the middle of all three, will always result in more substantial outcomes than looking at one aspect in isolation.

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Masud Khokhar (Director of Library & Archives, University of York) visited the Library to talk to the Leadership Development Network about his leadership journey. His journey, and lessons he shared with us, were inspiring and very thought provoking. He mentioned a number of things that I have started to think about in relation to our space development and facilities work:

  • Look at technology hype cycles and prepare yourself without invest too much energy in the infrastructure too early
  • The first step to innovation is thinking, which could lead to discussion and ultimately testing – this has made me think about how innovation between library spaces and our Special Collections could result in new opportunities
  • Digital technology will be critical to the future of academic libraries – what aspect of this future will be most critical to the University of Manchester Library spaces?

I am looking at how we can use technology to improve the library space and facilities services we offer. Although we will be migrating to Office365, free apps that can be used on android and IOS devices (such as iAuditor, Take 5, Mindly and UpKeep) may help us work smarter and help deliver work in more efficient and effective ways. This also comes from the point that such apps offer the ability for teams to be better connected both in sharing information but also keeping informed about the progress of work.

What technology are you using to help you better manage and develop your library spaces and facilities?

Thanks for reading,

Mike Kelly
Library Space Development Manager
The University of Manchester Library

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