Notes on "The Suma Project"

The Suma Project: Integrating Observational Data Assessment Into Space and Service Design
Jason Casden, Lead Librarian, Digital Services Development, NCSU Libraries, Raleigh, NC
Bret Davidson, Digital Technologies Development Librarian, NCSU Libraries, Raleigh, NC

  • Suma is an open-source, tablet-based app for collecting & analysing data about the usage of physical spaces & services. It supports all mobile devices, as well as desktop computers.
  • This app contains a giant button to allow staff to easily record headcount. The student workers just hold the iPad at their side and click the large button when taking headcount.
  • Suma uses Google Analytics to keep track of app usage.
  • It’s a reusable tool that has the ability to be used across multiple departments & initiatives
  • The Suma server uses PHP & syncs between the client & the server
  • It exports data into CSV format & chart images
  • Suma is hosted on GitHub; pull requests are welcome
  • Includes installation docs & support requests
  • Has the ability to run on a web server & MySQL database.
  • For more information on the Suma project, please ask me for the PDFs of this presentation.

Notes on "Know Thy Project"

Know Thy Project: What Creation and Analysis of an Online Data Stream Can Teach You About Output and Efficiency
R. Niccole Westbrook, Coordinator of Digital Operations, University of Houston Libraries, Houston, TX

  • Every person on the team collects data
  • Make sure that staff understand why the data they’re collecting is useful.
  • Have a plan for all data collected.
  • Use incentives.
  • Log the hours spent collecting data into a calendar, such as Google calendar.
  • It’s important to know how many hours are being put in on a project so that we can revise if needed.
  • Have staff log any issues they’ve had with collecting data.
  • Using forms within Google Docs (now called Google Drive) is a good way for staff to collect data from any location.
  • These forms can be exported into Excel for analysis.
  • Compare how much work has been produced year after year.
  • Why has the workflow increased/decreased? In what ways can we improve?
  • Make sure that data collection & analysis doesn’t take any more than 5-10 minutes per day.
  • Flawed data is better than no data.
  • Quality control decisions are made 1st with policies and then through data collection & analysis.

Notes on "Finding Inspiration from Within"

Finding Inspiration from Within: Harnessing Your Library’s Knowledge for Professional Development Programming
Carissa Tomlinson, First Year Experience Librarian, Towson University- Albert S. Cook Library, Towson, MD

  • Internal professional development is necessary to keep up with new technologies & changes within the library field
  • Librarian roles are shifting; we’re going from primarily “reference librarian” to a multitude of other job descriptions & duties
  • How do we stay current as our jobs & responsibilities change?
  • The presenters propose an internal professional development program utilizing the peer learning model (reciprocal helping relationship between individuals of comparable status; we’re teaching each other & learning from each other)
  • The transfer of institutional memory & knowledge management are very important
  • What could an internal program look like?
    • Workshops, seminars, directed reading, journal clubs, peer mentoring
    • “Teach Around”: 2-3 librarians teach for 20-30 minutes each
    • This program is held 2 times during the semester and monthly during the summer
    • Topics are decided upon by librarians
  • All librarians at Cook University considered this program to be beneficial to their professional development
  • This program builds collegiality & improves communication
  • Cook University began a Staff Development Committee at their library; it is focused on librarians

Notes on "Mother of All LibGuides"

Mother of all LibGuides: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design
Carol Leibiger, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD
Alan Aldrich, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD

  • Pathfinders existed from 1970 – 1995; Online subject guides began in 1994
  • On average, it takes an experienced librarian 8 to 20 hours to create one subject guide. Because of this and the continual maintenance required of each guide, the more research guides one creates, the larger the workload
  • Four network structures:
    • Circle (least efficient, but most satisfying; everyone contributes & shares)
    • Chain
    • Y
    • Wheel (most efficient; least satisfying; few people are able to contribute & share)
  • Social Creator Model:
    • No organized sharing; an individual gets permission from another
  • The “Mother LibGuide” is unpublished, but made available for staff to copy pages and/or boxes from. Changes that are made to the Mother are passed on to all the children.
  • The Mother is a repository for common content (the basic boxes & pages that multiple librarians would want on their pages).
  • Who builds the Mother LibGuide?

Notes on "Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage"

Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability
Dr. Gabriela Castro Gessner, Research and Assessment Analyst, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY
Wendy Wilcox, Access Services Librarian, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY
Adam Chandler, Electronic Resources User Experience Librarian, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY

  • Bibliomining (Logs data approach)
    • Home-grown web analytics tool on who is using our content (regardless of user’s location)
  • Springshare provided the presenters with 4 months of log data on 637 LibGuides
  • This data was logged by location/institutional affiliation
  • Through this data, they discovered that 70% of their LibGuide users were not affiliated with Cornell
  • They looked at 20 guides of the 637 LibGuides from high use to low use and found that the median # of tabs for this sample were 6.
  • Is it important to know who is accessing our guides?
  • Non-related, but interesting fact: Each department at Cornell is going to pay a portion of the library’s budget

Notes on "Transformation Begins When the Renovation is Done"

Transformation Begins When the Renovation is Done: Reconfiguring Staff and Services to Meet 21st Century Research Needs
Marta Brunner, Head of Collections, Research, and Instructional Services, UCLA Library, Los Angeles, CA
Zoe Borovsky, Librarian for Digital Research and Scholarship, UCLA Library, Los Angeles, CA
Allison Benedetti, Librarian for Advanced Research and Engagement, UCLA Library, Los Angeles, CA
Ms. Jennifer Osorio, Team Leader, Humanities and Social Sciences, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

  • Transformed their outdated library to a learning commons with both collaborative & quiet areas
  • The “pods” issue:
    • This collaborative area contained clusters of “pods” designed to promote group work. There were 20 pods total; each had the ability to seat 8-12 people.
    • These pods were overwhelmingly popular, but many students that used them were working solo. Even though this was designed to be a collaborative area, students were using it as a quiet space and shushing one another
  • How they fixed the pods issue:
    • They improved the signage. Instead of using the word “Collaboration” for the area, they made its purpose more straightforward by changing it to “Meet & Talk.”
    • They started taking reservations for the pods
    • They began observing and recording data on how students were using these spaces (how many students were working solo & how many worked in a group?)
    • They talked with faculty, undergraduate & graduate students. They discovered that grad students didn’t have as much collaborative work as the undergrads, so they didn’t use the pods. Grad students wanted their own space and didn’t want to compete for space with the undergrads
  • The result:
    • A new reservation system for spaces was implemented
    • They began a fundraising campaign to create grad student spaces in unrenovated areas of the library & allowed the grad students themselves to design this space

Notes on "Seating Sweeps"

Seating Sweeps: An Innovative Research Method to Learn About How Our Patrons Use the Library
Mott Linn, Head of Collection Management, Clark University

  • SPSS - Data analysis
  • Created diagrams showing every seat in library.
  • Every seat & group of seats was given an ID#.
  • They took these seating sweeps one day per week during Oct & Nov. These sweeps were taken 4 times each day they were taken.
  • They discovered that door count was not a good predictor of head count.
  • The library's door count more than doubled after renovation, however.
  • The coordinator of the seating sweeps created clear definitions of each item on the checklist. See Linn’s article (linked below) for the checklist.
  • They color-coded the seating according to the level of use.
  • Due in large parts to the data gained in these results & the renovations made, they won an ALA design award for this renovation.
  • For Linn’s article describing this process, see:


Notes on "The Location-Less Library"

The Location-less Library: Examining the Value of the Library Building
Melissa Gold, Science Librarian, Millersville University, Millersville, PA Krista Higham, Access Services Librarian, Millersville University, Millersville, PA

  • During their library’s renovation, they moved into a temporary location.
  • The majority of their print collection was moved to storage.
  • How were students impacted by the renovation? Can libraries meet their mission without a building?
  • This library still has not yet moved into the renovated building; they will be by Fall 2013.
  • In the temporary location, there was no reference desk. Librarians were available by appointment & virtual reference.
  • They shared the timeline & progress of the library’s renovation via a new blog:
  • Pictures of the renovation:
  • Each method the library used aligned with one or more of the ACRL Standards for Higher Education (
  • They took head counts twice per day.
  • They kept statistics on the percentage of seats & computers that were being used throughout the day.
  • They also conducted random surveys during the day:
    • Why are you here? (studying, meeting friends, group work, sleep, etc.)
    • Why did you choose this particular space in the library? (outlets, computers, quiet, near material needed, etc.)
  • They found out that students seemed to use the library more as quiet space than for the services & resources
  • Selected bibliography:
    • Harold B. Shill and Shawn Tonner, "Does the Building Still Matter? Usage Patterns in New, Expanded, and Renovated Libraries, 1995-2002," College and Research Libraries 65, (2004): 123-151.
    • Jeffrey T. Gayton, "Academic Libraries: “Social" or "Communal?" The Nature and Future of Academic Libraries," Journal of Academic Librarianship 34, no. 1 (January 2008): 60-66.
    • Scott Bennett, "Libraries and Learning: A History of Paradigm Change," portal: Libraries and the Academy 9, no. 2 (April 2009): 181-197.
    • Sam Demas, “From the Ashes of Alexandria: What’s Happening in the College Library?,” in The Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space, (Washington DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2005), 25-40.
  • PDF report available at

Notes on "Designing the 'Unquiet' Academic Library"

Designing the “Unquiet” Academic Library: Meeting Institutional Needs Through Innovative Learning Space
Dr. Debra Gilchrist, Vice President, Learning and Student Success, Pierce College, Lakewood, WA
Christie Flynn, Faculty Librarian, Pierce College, Lakewood, WA
Michael Slater, Principal Architect, McGranahan Architects, Tacoma, WA

  • Pierce College, WA (community college) needed to build a new library
  • Focus on retention & student success
  • Two things needed:
    • Student engagement
    • Leadership for institutional change
  • They wanted students to be active & engaged in the library; facilitation of learning, rather than management of learning
  • They compiled 8 years of assessment data to assist them with the planning of the new building
  • The library was going to grow from 25,000 sq. ft. to 66,000 sq. ft.
  • Student engagement & persistence
    • Active learning
    • Collaboration among students; relationships & interactions with caring adults; feeling connected
    • Quality of experience is function of quality of effort offered by an institution
    • Respect for diverse learning styles
  • Who can the library be & what can their role be in regards to the entirety of the institution?
  • Collaborate / Learn & discover / Shift perspective of what the library means/is
  • The library design process started 1 year before construction began
  • The library director sat in every week at the facilities meeting during the planning & construction phases; she wasn’t invited to attend, but asked if she could & they allowed her to; she says that attending these meetings were vital to the success of the renovation
  • In addition, the chancellor allowed the librarians to be on the team selecting the architect
  • They had 3D modelling, which allowed the stakeholders to envision the space
  • Ceiling panes, colors, and furniture arrangements were the most difficult for them to decide upon
  • They created all new signage & used informative names/verbs for each service point & area of the library:
    • Reference desk was called “Ask”
    • “Borrow”: Circulation
    • “Learn”: Library classrooms
    • “Connect”: This is the most dramatic change; this area is interactive, loud & collaborative
    • “Reflect”: Quiet areas
    • “Design”: Create & edit film; graphic design
    • “Write”: Tutors
  • The spaces are still evolving in the library
  • The building and signs have an intuitive design; there are no signs telling patrons where to be loud or quiet
  • The library contained rolling whiteboards, laptops & desktops
  • The reference statistics doubled after renovation
  • Instruction statistics jumped hugely as well
  • The library placed a large importance on the acoustics (how quiet or loud could specific areas get?)
  • They purchased rolling foot stools, which proved to be very popular amongst the students. These footstools doubled as extra chairs, as well as a place for students to lay their items on.
  • They focused on purchasing furniture on wheels, so that students can decide where/how to sit.
  • The new building contained an abundance of outlets in the floor for laptops & other electronics; outlets were placed app. every 8 sq. ft.
  • Before the renovation, the library’s statistics tended to dip in the afternoon. Since the renovation, this has changed. Even the student’s “in-between” time is being spent in the library.
  • Other areas include a peer review area for faculty, traditional study rooms with whiteboards & TV screens (students can check out markers)
  • The higher floors were built to be quiet; this has been intuitive for the students and they police each other if someone is making too much noise
  • One of the most popular pieces of furniture they purchased were cubes for students to sit & study in. These cubes provided privacy for the students. Contained bench seats & even coat hooks.
  • Faculty in other departments have begun purchasing any software or equipment that the library cannot afford
  • Some tips:
    • Know our philosophical framework before starting. What’s important to us?
    • What does our institution need from the library?
    • Furniture variety is critical!
    • Mediocre is NOT OK; don’t settle
    • Establish trust with the architect & work as a team; the more time you spend with the architect, the better; they will have a better idea of what you want for the library if they get to know you; do lunch together often
  • Furniture recommendation: Jasper Furniture System (high quality, low cost)
  • They had a fundraiser as a “closing party” for the old library:
    • Games to toss old books into trash cans
    • Ride book carts
    • Book bowling
    • Graffiti art on the old library walls
  • Student newspaper did a large spread on the renovation:
  • See the following 2 library journal pages for info on this renovation:


Notes on "Beer Cans in the Stacks"

Beer Cans in the Stacks? Using a Photo Study to Reveal How Students Use Library Spaces
Maura  Seale, Research & Instruction Librarian, Georgetown University

  • Paper forms for headcounts were entered into online database.
  • Staff took pictures every hour the library is open, from mid-Feb to mid-May. They put up signs informing students of this project, so that students not wanting to be photographed would know not to sit in certain areas. They also received a large article in the student newspaper informing students of this project and making sure they knew it was to improve library services to them.
  • Data was counted into Tableau Public (free version;
  • Staff created video from all of the pictures taken. (Specific areas of the library at each time of day).
  • Findings:
    • From this project, staff discovered that there was a lot of wasted space in their library & that students had very clear space, location & furniture preferences. Students preferred any tables near windows. Armchairs aren't heavily used, but when they are, it's for napping. Students were even moving furniture to different floors via the elevator! The library's print material was still being used a lot. Printer lines were long. The reference collection, however, was not being used much.
  • What Changed:
    • Half of the print reference collection was weeded & shelving removed for more space for students.
    • Printers were moved to a better location.
    • Circulation was locked up after hours, which allowed them to keep an entire floor of the library open 24 hours.
  • PDF report available at


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