So why do we want to renovate the library? Since this space was designed and built in the 1980s, there has been a good deal of change in how libraries are used and in their spatial requirements. If you’re reading this post right now, you’ve hit upon the major change: the Internet. What was once only available in (expensive) bound volumes is available free online. What was once requiring of a multi-volume (indeed, multi-series and multi-volume) set to research, can now be done on very easy to use (and of course, expensive) subscription databases. While it pains us somewhat, in that we like books and don’t love removing them from the collection – and all too often, into recycling – some of these titles aren’t proving a good return on investment for the space and cost of keeping them in the library.
That said, there are still many, many things available in print that lawyers use in their daily research and work, and we need to have space for those items and to make them available to our clients. Our task in 2011 is to identify which items fall into which categories, what we can get rid of, what we need to keep, how we anticipate research will be carried out going forward, and what that means we will need for this library in the future. It isn’t easy, but we can take solace in knowing we’re not alone: every library, especially those undertaking a renovation, must consider the same.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. In fact, quite the opposite! With making changes to the collection and space, we will hopefully change how we’re able to interact with our library users, and how we can make this place better for them. To start – the reference desk. We want to be accessible to library users. There are currently too many desks up front – we want to be where you can easily walk up to us, ask for help, and even sit down and walk through a database or catalogue search together.
We also want to improve on the spaces we have for library users to work. As I mentioned in the previous post, the temporary offices aren’t very conducive to keeping the noise down. Anyone who’s been in the library has also probably noticed that the soundproofing for the permanent offices isn’t all that great either. After the renovations, we’d like space for quiet work. We’d also like space where two or more lawyers can work together, without disrupting those wanting a quiet environment. And we’d like an area that’s a bit more relaxed. Perhaps a place that’s a bit more comfortable to sit while reading Law Times or The Economist, but still in the relative quiet of a library. We’d also like to make sure that we have enough room for more computers. Currently, we have seven computers for library users. In the future, we imagine the need will increase. We want to have workspaces that allow print and computer research at the same time, with desks and chairs that are comfortable and fit for purpose.
These are the major changes we’d like to see and hope to accomplish. There are a tonne of smaller items (book carts that fit CLE binders! new signs!), but all relate back to how we can make the library space better for users by way of good study or research space, clear organization, efficient access to library services, and a welcoming and professional environment. What would you like to see?