On Nov. 28-29, I attended the fall meeting of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. This was my first meeting in six years where I was not a board member or presenter and I enjoyed not having to worry about meeting administrative details. We met in the very impressive Hitt Library:

Very jealous of the fountain! The original 1960s building has had several updates, including an addition completed five years ago. The library seats over 3,000 and is highly used. They also use Occuspace to monitor occupancy.

Much like the libraries at NC State, they make innovative use of a variety of furniture styles and had just added noise canceling “phone booths” which the students love:

Hitt Library phone booth

The library also made good use of video signage — here is an example of signage promoting their AV media check-out:

Hitt Library signage

In addition to touring the library, we also had sessions on remote work management, use of AI in higher education, and lessons learned during renovations. Here are some of the lessons learned that were shared:

  • Focus on mission and values when planning renovation – the library is the most inclusive space on campus
  • Do not let architects and designers drive renovations; we have a better understanding of how our space is used
  • Use the best materials for furniture
  • Avoid “sticks and stalks” for chair legs and lights – first to break
  • Embrace that students will move your furniture and have wheels on all tables
  • Negotiate with campus partners to help fund renovations
  • Cafe and food options very important – don’t short change
  • High back furniture very popular
  • Audio/sound privacy highly valued
  • Avoid lounge furniture
  • Future proof – avoid permanent walls where you can
  • Go beyond the book – media and peripherals check out very popular
  • Libraries are no longer computer labs; minimize the amount of hardware in study spaces
  • Libraries are the community space for students

As always it was great to see so many of my colleagues as well as meet new ones. ASERL has become my professional home since coming to Wake Forest and I always appreciate learning from other deans and directors.