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Research Library Impact Framework Initiative and Pilots: Library Spaces

Research question: (How) do library spaces facilitate innovative research, creative thinking, and problem-solving?

Project Teams

Project Descriptions

Pilot Project: University of Florida

Between 2014 and 2017, Marston Science Library (MSL) of the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries renovated three of five floors, creating new public spaces that include collaboration spaces, a visualization conference room with specialized visualization tools that serve GIS and Informatics, quiet study areas, a Virtual Reality (VR) Lab, and a makerspace that supports all disciplines. The renovations have increased building occupancy to more than two million visitors each year, a dramatic increase in overall visitors from previous years. Despite these successes, MSL has renovated spaces with very little strategic planning involved, and the Smathers Librarians are interested in better understanding how these successes support innovative, interdisciplinary research as well as promote creative thinking and problem solving in the student population.


Practice Brief: Iowa State University

The Iowa State University (ISU) Library developed a six phase, $90 million renovation plan. Phase 1 of the plan was accomplished in the fall of 2019, including  renovations to the main entrance area as well as all restrooms throughout the Parks Library building. Additional phases of the plan will be contingent on obtaining project funding.

The ISU research project was based on the use of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Project Outcome for Academic Libraries survey tool. In the ISU project, data was collected and analyzed using the Project Outcome spaces survey, once every semester, from the fall of 2018 through the fall of 2021. The ISU project was designed to identify benefits of the Project Outcome survey through the hands-on use of the Project Outcome toolkit and to share those findings. This practice brief provides information on how to use Project Outcome. A goal of the project was to support and encourage other ARL libraries in their own use of the Project Outcome resources. 


Pilot Project: Syracuse University

Syracuse University Libraries’ ARL Research Library Impact Framework Initiative Research Team is looking into the impact of distinct academic learning communities located in academic library spaces. The team is investigating impact broadly, from the impact of distinct academic learning communities on members of those particular communities, to the impact the academic library may have on the communities in its midst, as well as how the communities themselves may impact the academic library’s ecosystem.

A distinct academic learning community contributes to academic success by supporting individual growth through the development of research and/or study skills. The community also encourages members to take part in at least one of the following: innovative research, creative thinking, problem solving. Fostering and building an engaged community is an important attribute or goal of the community. Community members self-select, and participation is not limited by the academic discipline affiliation of potential participants.


Practice Brief: Temple University

This practice brief describes research conducted by staff at Temple University Libraries as part of the libraries’ participation in ARL’s Research Library Impact Framework initiative to address the question of “how library spaces facilitate innovative research, creative thinking, and problem-solving.” This research focused on how changes in library space impact the work of staff as individuals, when working with colleagues, and in their work with users. The researchers asked how staff are supported as they make changes in space and how users are supported in that space. Temple had a unique opportunity to explore these questions when they opened the new Charles Library in August 2019; the researchers interviewed staff before and after the move.