Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New design for the library entrance area and student social area.

New design for the library entrance area and student social area.

Following the request of many students for an area where they could relax and eat and also a space for group study activities, the Marshall Library team considered the challenges and options responding to this request. In addition, the library reception area of the Marshall Library hadn’t been changed since 1995/96, with a slight improvement for the staff desk area introduced in 2006. Implementing these ideas, the layout of the entrance area of the Marshall Library needed to be reviewed and restructured.

The requests were the following: 
      Make space for an area where students can relax and chat and have a lunch or coffee break. Challenges: This area needs to be outside the book collection area so that books won’t get dirty or stained and other readers aren’t disturbed by chatting or other noise. This area also needs to be separate enough from the library staff area so that noise doesn’t travel and become disruptive.
      Create a group study area which students can book for discussing and working together. Challenges: big enough for at least 6 people to work together, enclosed so that noise can’t travel and become disruptive to other library users and staff. 
Redesign the library staff area with working areas specific to tasks and workloads.
Challenges: in the current layout, some staff would sit far away from each other so that communicating has occasionally been difficult, and some members have felt more isolated, sitting ‘on their own’. Only few staff had easy and direct access to the issue desk, and not all members of staff could actually see if anybody needed help. Storage space was also a major requirement as well as letting as much daylight as possible into both areas. We also wanted to make our issue desk more accessible for wheelchair users.

After much discussion, surveys, consulting committees as well as running the plans past a focus group, the Marshall Library team came up with the following solution:

The area that currently houses the issue desk and staff area will be divided in two halves. One side will become the student social area with sofas and arm chairs as well as a ‘breakfast bar’ area with high tables and high chairs. The other half will be used by the library staff with desks and storage space distributed efficiently with easy access to the issue desk for all members of staff. An important consideration was the need to keep all shelving low so that an open view of the issue desk and the staff area is possible. The staff and student social areas will be seperated by a semi-transparent glass partition to allow light to enter both areas from both window sides while reducing noise disruption.
The issue desk will be located to the left hand side when people enter the library. It will be at desk height (75cm) with a gap at the front to allow wheelchair users to access the desk adequately. A raised part of the desk will provide for library users who need support whilst standing to lean on.
Later in 2014-15 we hope to turn our Archive Room into a group study space (as requested by students; see Library 2014 Survey). The Archive Room, located to the rear of the current staff area, will been cleared off all extra items soon, and a large table will provide enough space for up to 8 students. An AV set will be installed later on and this room will be bookable by students who wish to use it for group discussions or project work.