Talking to some College librarians recently it was interesting to hear about the issues they were facing in delivering library services to Generation Z students – the first tribe of true digital natives or screensavers – who are demanding more than their X and Y predecessors in how they interact with a library space. Three main themes emerged:
Designing an intuitive learning space – The main thing about intuitive design is that it’s invisible and focuses on the experience rather than the process. Years of designing, furnishing and resourcing library spaces gives us a great understanding of how a space can be configured to make it intuitive. Colours, lighting, furnishings, space planning can invisibly direct students to what they need to find and where they want to be without having to ask.
Managing the space – Technology and how to manage the shift to mobile devices was a strong theme in our discussion. As learning methods evolve students need extra support with power sockets, mobile device chargers, group study hubs, iPad/tablet loan and storage facilities. Furniture solutions incorporating extra sockets and charger points are key. Mobile units and screening, interconnecting and folding tables, stackable chairs, mobile ‘power towers’, iPad stands and trolleys become ‘part of the furniture’ of a modern, accessible library space.
“I’m looking for integration between the different areas. Our students have laptops, or they’re at a computer, but they also have files, papers, pens, the whole thing so you need to have space that is big enough”.
Newer libraries are beginning to integrate other services, particularly where campuses are merged, such as careers, study skills, hospitality, café, chill spaces, demonstration and production spaces. Flexibility is key with furnishings that can easily be constructed and deconstructed – no special tools, no special skills, no extra strong staff or students required!
Bridging the gap between learning and earning – Our College librarians were universal in bridging the gap between learning and earning interiors with transitional adult styled spaces. In the past the gap between a College library space, a University space or even an office interior was huge but the gap has narrowed. We now see a blend of working, learning and earning spaces.
Michaela Lancaster, Senior Design Manager, Demco Interiors says: “Generation Z students have a keen eye for design and they want to hook up and set down in cool spaces that motivate and inspire. Our role is to bring all the strands together to create functional spaces that zing with imagination and creativity that make students want to be there”.