Assessing Library Space for Learning. Edited by Susan E. Montgomery. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 260 p. Paper $45.00 (ISBN-13: 978-1-4422-7927-8).

In Assessing Library Space for Learning, Susan E. Montgomery has assembled a collection of articles from a broad range of practitioners, including educational development, psychology, architecture, user experience, and librarianship generally. The rich mixture of backgrounds delivers more than the promise of its title, offering the reader deep insight into the practical aspects of academic libraries. A welcome contribution in the field, addressing what is largely a dearth in the library literature regarding library space assessment generally—much less, its use for learning. What is available is generally not reflective of the substantial change that has been underway for decades: the “big shift” from a formerly “singular focus on books to a much more dynamic and ever-fluid emphasis on user experience” (53). This book brings together a working understanding of the role of library as place, with practical assessment along multiple learning axes.

Overall, the goal of the book is to help readers better understand how to think about library space within the context of learning. Comprised of three sections, the first section provides a much-needed backgrounding, building from a thorough literature review of learning theory, the psychology of approaches to library spaces, and the evolving role of architecture in library design. Together, a solid foundation from which the second section springboards into real-world application: from library space assessment and accreditation to student success and library space redesign. Noteworthy chapters include assessment and institutional alignment, and separate explorations of library space and resource usage from the standpoints of liberal arts students, STEM students, and student athletes. The closing section tries to take the library space assessment beyond the one-off case study and incorporate assessment into the day-to-day routine of library operation but comes across as a bit light with only two chapters.

Rich with anecdotes, quotes from end users, and numerous examples of signage and survey instruments, the book is both readable and browsable, offering the type of practical utility that is too-often missing from academic literature. The work has potential to be of use in any library but is highly recommended to practitioners of academic libraries. Whether a library has already transitioned to active collaborative learning space(s) or is merely considering, the role of today’s academic library goes beyond merely accommodating researchers’ information needs. Active support of learning and collaboration needs have become critical, and this book can offer much-needed insight.—Tod Colegrove, Head of DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada


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