Sunday, 1 June 2014

Learning Space Review

One of our campus libraries
During February, we volunteered to undergo a Learning Space Review. This is a service offered by our local JISC Regional Support Centre (West Midlands). It is a way of ascertaining unbiased opinions regarding use of the library space, with the aim of positive recommendations being made. The review focuses on the use of the physical space, rather than the library service as a whole.

Two JISC RSC representatives spent half a day with us, during which time they observed the operation of the library, made notes, interviewed staff etc. Being observed is quite nerve-wracking but they did their best to put us at ease and explain what they were looking at.

A few weeks later we received a report outlining the findings of the review. In all honesty, reading the report was quite painful! The JISC RSC reps informed us in advance that libraries do not generally find it easy reading; they are conscience of incorporating positives wherever possible, but the main aim of the review is to pinpoint areas of improvement and make alternative suggestions. It is worth remembering this whilst reading the report, as it otherwise feels like a very negative document! However, saying that, I didn’t think we did too badly.

Fast forward a few months and we have now started to act on some of the suggested alterations. One in particular which struck a chord with us is that our fiction stock could be better placed elsewhere within the library environment. In response to this, during the Summer we aim to move around the entire bookstock in order to create a ‘reading zone’ area. This is something which had never occurred to us before but it makes perfect sense. It should create a visible distinction between our academic and non-academic stock. Other recommendations we are looking at include signage, inclusive provision, redecoration and making physical alterations to the library entrance. Decisions such as the latter two are out of the library’s control and require the assistance of the college Estates department, making them long-term projects rather than something which can be acted upon immediately.

I had never heard of a Learning Space Review until the beginning of this year, but I think it is an excellent service, especially as it is free. JISC RSC reps visit a multitude of libraries and it makes sense to draw on their observations of good practice. It has allowed us a period of reflection and to view the library’s physical environment with new eyes. We're hoping it will also provide evidence towards our CoLRiC Peer Accreditation Scheme portfolio. A win-win situation J

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