While the Future of Libraries task force has been envisioning the global library of tomorrow, staff across the MIT Libraries have been hard at work making improvements the community can enjoy today. This fall, the Libraries debuted a number of service and space changes designed to improve service, accessibility, and engagement.
Many improvements — including an expanded scan-on-demand service and office delivery, a modern microform reader/printer, and more printing and scanning capability in 24-hour study spaces — are based on direct feedback from users via the Ask Us chat service, Tell Us online suggestion form, and user surveys. Felicity Walsh, head of Information Delivery and Library Access, adds that Libraries staff are continuously looking at how spaces can be better used and keeping up with industry best practices.
“We’re always trying to find ways to give people what they want,” says Walsh.
Also this academic year, the conversion of underutilized space in Barker Library into an active learning classroom for library instruction is being explored. New furnishings and technologies could allow students to work flexibly alone or in groups, to share what they’re working on, and to engage in discussion more easily.
“We want students to take control of the discovery and research process,” says E-learning and Instructional Technology Librarian Stacey Snyder, who is leading the project. “This will be a great venue for that.”
Other facilities improvements under review for the coming year include a reconfigured desk at Barker Library and a potential reconfiguration of Hayden Library to improve usability.
With the Future of Libraries task force completing a nearly yearlong process of gathering input from the MIT community, conversations about users’ needs, and opportunities for experimentation, are reaching a whole new level.
“Chris Bourg and the task force have undertaken an extensive interview process with the community as a whole,” says Walsh. “There are certain things like scanning, printing, and delivery, that we knew people wanted. But with the task force, it’s exciting to think that some of the ideas coming out of this process are going to be surprising.”