A Renovation Is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Engaging the Community to Create a Dynamic Library Space

A Renovation Is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Engaging the Community to Create a Dynamic Library Space

Laura Costello (Teachers College Columbia University, USA), Hui Soo Chae (Teachers College Columbia University, USA) and Gary Natriello (Teachers College Columbia University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8392-1.ch015


This chapter describes the community engagement plan carried out by the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College, Columbia University to develop a design for “the learning theater,” a flexible space aimed at the educators and students of the future. In order to design a learning space with the potential to inspire innovative use and cutting edge research, library staff conducted outreach and events to involve faculty, students, staff, and other stakeholders in generating use cases and ideas. These activities included immersive full day design events, shorter format design events, lectures, targeted collection development, and multimedia creation.
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The Gottesman Libraries serve a community of over 5,500 graduate students, plus faculty members, staff, and alumni. The academic programs of Teachers College cover graduate study in the areas of education, psychology, health, and leadership with a wide range of masters’ and doctoral level degree options. While large numbers of students live in student housing in close proximity to the college and the library, many students are active professionals in the field of education who commute to campus for classes and study. The students and faculty members of the college are deeply concerned about all aspects of teaching and learning and hence constitute a unique resource for collaborating in the development of a new learning space.

Accessing the talent and resources of the college community and creating the conditions for genuine collaboration present a substantial challenge. Not only are students, faculty, and others incredibly busy with their own jobs both inside the college and often beyond, but also they typically engage with the library and the library staff in the course of trying to get their own work done in the most efficient way possible. Inviting them to engage with the renovation project takes imagination and skill to achieve success. Fortunately, the library was well positioned to take on this challenge as a result of the earlier renovation experience.

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