Opening a New Library, Assessing Its Spaces

January 16, 2014

Today was a big day. After more than three years of planning and construction, the Jerry Falwell Library was formally dedicated and opened for student use. Along with quite a few others, I had a significant role in the planning and design process. As a remote worker, I was only able to watch the ceremony via streaming, but I’ve had the blessing of touring it a few times during the construction process, and I’ve even given a conference presentation about the data underlying the design.

This week I’ve been working on the library’s budget proposal for 2014-15, and also investigating how to assess the library’s performance in time to come. The new building now having been occupied at a significant cost, it’s clear that we want to impact students and faculty. With that goal in mind, I’ve made an effort to update my understanding of space assessment in libraries and learning commons. Below are some fresh sources that I’ve found helpful:

    • Beagle, D. (2011, September 27). From learning commons to learning outcomes: Assessing collaborative services and spaces. Retrieved from EDUCAUSE website:
    • Culshaw, J., Lippincott, J. K., & Vedantham, A. (2010, May 3). Learning commons: What’s working? [Video file]. Retrieved from
    • Lippincott, J. K., & Duckett, K. (2013). Library space assessment: Focusing on learning. Research Library Issues: A Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, 284, 12-21. Retrieved from

In recent years I had mostly focused on sources that dealt with ascertaining user needs as a part of the facility design/renovation process. Sources that I found useful for that purpose included the following:

    • Fagerheim, B. A., & Weingart, S. J. (2005). Using focus groups to assess student needs. Library Review, 54, 524-530. doi:10.1108/00242530510629542
    • Felix, E. (2011). Learning space service design. Journal of Learning Spaces, 1(1). Retrieved from
    • Jamieson, P. (2009). The serious matter of informal learning. Planning for Higher Education, 37(2), 18-25. Retrieved from
    • Lane, C. (2010). Imagining all of campus as a learning environment. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 33(3). Retrieved from
    • Webster, K. (2010). The library space as learning space. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(6), 10-11. Retrieved from

Want to learn more about library space assessment and related topics?

Click the buttons below to see relevant entries in my bibliography, SmithFile.