Gone Are The Days Of The Card Catalog

WTW-104, Pattee - Paterno Library, Penn State UniversityAs education trends change, educators are continually developing new means of teaching today’s students. These trends have Architects and Engineers thinking outside the box to create academic facilities of the future. Not only are classrooms being affected, but there is a dramatic shift in what students and educators are demanding in library designs. In today’s libraries, technology and collaboration spaces are in high demand, which has created the trend for “Knowledge Commons”, spaces that didn’t exist when card catalogs were popular.

So what is a “Knowledge Commons” you may ask? The answer may surprise you. Today’s students spend on an average of 18 hours per week at the Library preparing for class assignments according to one major institution. Students desire open group workstations where they can collaborate on projects.

They desire small group study rooms with access to technology that allow them to share digital information. They desire group practice/presentation rooms that have pod casting and green screen capabilities. They also desire casual break out seating areas and quick access computer kiosks to check email and assignments. Instructor’s desire small group instruction spaces for 6-12 people, as well as multi-media classrooms that accommodates 25 or more students that are flexible and support multiple media/teaching configurations. Along with all this, the desires for food service venues within the academic/library spaces are at an all-time high, and did I mention that they want these services available 24 hours per day?

The challenges that face the engineering team to create these spaces may look daunting when evaluating the infrastructure of an existing library. Typically the HVAC, electrical and information technology systems that exist in pre-2000 construction are not adequate to accommodate a knowledge commons’ variable occupant loads, information technology needs, and power requirements.

The goal of the engineering team is to provide MEP systems that are quiet, flexible, energy efficient, scalable for today’s every changing technology, and that integrate aesthetically with the facility’s architecture. These are keys for success of MEP systems that must accommodate many different uses within the same space.

If you need assistance with your next library or academic project, or just want to learn more about the current trends in library and academic spaces, as well as the MEP systems needed to support these spaces, please do not hesitate to contact Roger Thies, PE at 814-237-2180 or rmt@ba-inc.com.

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