Friday, February 13, 2009

On Literature Reviews

First things first: the floorplan scan I promised in the first post has now officially reached "ever-elusive" status. I talked to Louise about posting it online, and she said we would probably have to clear with some of the higher-ups here at the research center first. I am planning a choice post for when (crossing my fingers that the "and if" addendum isn't necessary here) it all comes together, however: expect a future post containing the floorplan and pictures of our current library space. Red tape! That's what I get for working for the guv'ment.

This week, Lousie and I hashed out the details for the Literature Review I'll be delivering come the end of March. I'd been wanting to know some of the basics: how many items, what metadata fields to include, and general partitioning of focus (mostly design? Or mostly library moving information?). Here's what we came up with:

  • 25-50 items (books, articles, etc.), with 50 being the absolute maximum. Narrowing it down to 30 high quality resources would be preferable.
  • Requested metadata fields included title, author, date published, publisher, and abstract/description if available.
  • The main focus of the literature review should be on library design, with regards to aesthetics and functionality. Much of the move itself has already been planned out (movers hired, schedules set) so my job will be to determine what to do with the stuff when it gets there, rather than how to get the stuff where it needs to be. Procedurally speaking, of course. Information on best practices and future goals for creative/effective use of library space is also desired.

To that end, research has been moving along quite nicely. The PCL has an excellent collection of print resources on library design (with many books in German, actually... shame my other language is French! Hopefully my grandmother never reads that), which I raided to the best of my abilities. Currently I'm reading 'Academic Libraries as High-Tech Gateways', which deals mainly with how libraries can best deal with the increasing focus on electronic resources within the information field. Overall, the message of the book seems to be that while electronic resources may gain prominence, print will still have an audience for the near future.

Or perhaps well into the future! The books does mention that in many cases, it depends on the institution. One of the things I've realized when trying to apply research I've been reading to an actual situation is this: reality has it's own constraints. While new furniture and paint may make a library more inviting to a potential patron, what if your institution can't afford furniture because of budget cuts? As far as the CTR goes, I'm pretty much stuck fitting what we have now into a new space, and doing my best to make an open environment by rearranging rather than reinventing. Which isn't to say that these books aren't helpful... it's just equally important to know your particular institution. Luckily I've worked here for a little over a year now.

Next week? I'm planning to start looking into blueprinting software soon... April will be here before I know it! And since I'd hate to break another promise, I'll say that will be next week's focus. If the big floorplan post ends up happening, it'll just be a nice surprise.

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