Transforming the Computer Lab at the Urbana Free Library

Transforming the Computer Lab at the Urbana Free Library


We’re trying to be a 21st-century library,
but we had a classroom-style lab, where everybody faces the same direction, everybody has a
small table, they all sit near each other, but don’t interact with each other, and that
that really wasn’t the way people wanted to use lab space. As far as we could, we did a lot of participatory
design. So one of the challenges was trying to design
a room that would function across different volume levels, different interests–it had
to be multi-functional, it had to be flexible, and it had to be able to do all these things
throughout the day, and get heavy use. It’s just been great to get so many GSLIS
people all together in one place, because honestly it’s a really altruistic group. And now you know just with the screens in
different directions, everything around the circles–it’s a completely changed place. It looks amazingly open. We’re not losing
any spaces, we’re gaining a couple spaces, but the space looks so much more open, it
looks so much friendlier. Part of our plans now is to begin to see where
when patrons come in, where do they sit first. Which seats do they make use of, is it the
starfish, is it the half-ovals against the wall, or the one in the middle, is it the
old straight desks that are still there. And that’s going to give us a sense what’s working
what’s not. Hopefully what this does is start up just
the beginning of this process, it’s going to be ongoing, and I think that’s what one
of the biggest things that we learn from 451, is it’s iterative. When you get enough GSLIS people together,
it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

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