Friday, March 27, 2009

Back from Break, Due Next Week?

So, after a nice sunny interlude, back to the grind! The Lit Review is due next Wednesday, and most of this week has been spent editing. Here comes the rundown: most of the articles included deal, naturally, with issues on general library layout and design. I managed to find a few books that dealt specifically with small and special libraries, so I figure taken together those should give Louise a good sense of the standards and practices out there. She has moved a library before, so the idea will be to introduce new ideas and provide a larger context for planning. The last time CTR moved the library, they were given almost no notice. Louise wanted information on planning, since they have more time to actually do it this time. I tried to find it!

I also included plenty of articles on the concept of the Information Commons and new integrated library service models. It was interesting: looking at that research sort of made me realize how on top of things we really are here at the CTR library! One article in particular (this one) describes the importance of a central general information desk in a 'information commons' centered library: one that patrons can contact in person, over the phone, and through email. The purpose of this desk is to either answer routine reference requests, refer patrons as needed to other institutions, or pass more advanced request onto a higher up in the library. This sounded familiar to me, because that's exactly the setup we have at CTR!

In fact, this whole project has made me feel very luck to have gotten a position working at a library that is, in general, so up to speed service wise. Many of the articles separated the information commons concept into two principles: service, and design. These are linked, of course, but they're both equally important. CTR manages to balance the use of physical and digital collections very, very well. As far as redesigning or implementing an information commons goes... on my end, it'll really be more about creating a more open space. Making the entrance a bit more inviting, and suggesting art and furniture choices. But otherwise, things are put together remarkably well. Part of the introduction to the Lit Review should definitely be about telling Louise what we've been doing right, and what shouldn't change, along with what needs to be done.

Taking inventory early next week, so the new post will be all about design! Can't wait. I want to start moving stuff around, even if it's just imaginary stuff at the moment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Floor Plans, and Others

It was an interesting week... nothing super substantial that stands out, but that just means this post will be a bit rambling and self indulgent. Like a real blog!

The designer made her way through the building next week. There was a really strange feeling around the center, very "omen of ill portent". It was the definitely the closest my Graduate Research position has ever felt to being in a Bergman movie. She took a few photos and measurements and left. Apparently it could all be for naught: I've heard a few rumblings that whatever she reports might be met with a "oh, that's nice" and subsequently ignored by the higher ups here at the research center. If that really is the case, it seems like a shame that someone is actually paying for her services. Especially if the budget is so tight!

I've been working on my own floor planning as well. Louise and I went through the library to determine what we will and won't take: apparently, we're taking pretty much everything! We are still trying to replace the front desks and magazine racks. I might also look into buying a CD tower/shelf to store the digital reports, freeing up some shelf space in the process. Also, the plan right now is to keep the basic arrangement of furniture between the library space and the workroom more or less as is.

That could use some explanation, since not everyone is on the 'inside' of this operation. Right now, the workroom has it's own work desk with two computers and a few filing cabinets/closed office shelves. One of the computers is just a work terminal, the other is the actual server for the catalog and such. The shelves contain both office supplies and archival copies of various reports of importance: basically, one 'to keep' copy of every report produced on site at the center (not every TxDOT report, every CTR TxDOT report. Believe me when I say I'm actually sparing you here... I could unleash so many acronyms). There's a new workroom space in the new library, and this stuff is going to be making a direct transfer: nothing extra from the library is going to the workroom (yet!) and vice versa.

I need to buy a tape measurer. The actual floor plans are due at the end of April, but I'd like to have all the shelving and furniture spec'd out by the end of March. One of the floor plans is going to be strictly what we have now, should we not be able to find any new furniture. Beyond that, I'll try to make a few more with possible new pieces that I find.

One other interesting challenge: finding transportation themed artwork! Louise is interested in decorating the new space a bit more. I wonder if the futurists would be in poor taste?

Spring Break next week, so no new posts... unless I find something I just have to right about. But I'll return with one about the Lit Review. Yay deliverables!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Omnigraffle Vs. Visio

Exciting times! It's March, which means I officially have something due at the end of the month. The literature review should come together just fine... and with that out of the way, I'll be free to work on floorplans. Which, not so coincidentally, are the subject of today's post! Whoda thunk it.

Earlier this week I went to an IT lab short course on two multipurpose graphic design/information visualization programs: Omnigraffle, for the Macintosh by Omnigroup, and Microsoft's Visio. I found one thing really intriguing about the meeting: how the (not quite dueling) different focuses of the iSchool were on full display. Omnigraffle, you see, is great for taking abstract concepts and turning them into visual representations: mind maps, design workflows, whichever. As a result, it was talked up left and right during the session as an important and useful program- very cutting edge, and so forth. Visio received less attention, because it was more grounded and focused on practicalities... you know, stuff like drawing up floorplans and blueprints. Guess which one I'll be using! I guess I'm the John Hodgman in this situation. So it goes!

Visio has a very complicated interface, as one might expect, but I managed to sort of get the hang of it even in the short time spent at the lab. It has a setting for 'Office Layout' that will pretty much be perfect for a library, since it includes bookshelves and so on. And speaking of furniture, a bit of room has been made in the budget! There's a bit left for a crack at a library entryway, so I'm going to be cruising furniture sites for a good 'L' shaped desk and some magazine wracks when I get the chance. New, more detailed blueprints of the floor space have also showed up here at the center, so once I get a hand of those I can start laying out the exact square footage in Visio and rearranging. I'm looking forward to it!