Economic Feasibility Report Of Sci-tech Library
In Australia, libraries have a very crucial value in maintaining the University campuses’ position as a fundamental institute for learning and research. They are defined as a strong asset to a city and its universities. It is a center for knowledge, prosperity, and social welfare that provides access for local and worldwide guests.
Valuation assessment of university libraries has become important because of the way university libraries are recognized as a significant asset in terms of economy. This realization has provoked the libraries to re-examine their value to their respective institutions and check the competence of investment put in by the University funding for advance education. The valuation of university libraries has also been in the limelight because of factors like data and client conditions. The nature of clients nowadays indicates an inclination towards access to free information and data compared to high-quality data which is dependable on many other factors. Due to this trend, universities have to validate the valuation of their libraries as a profitable resource.
“Recently, the value of a university library has become a key area of the actual performance of a university. The value of a university library assesses the contribution made by the library services with various properties to the success of professors and students through the subjective judgment of users who benefit from these services. The intangible character of value and the subjectivity of value judgment are the main reasons that value measurements are difficult to carry out.” (Young Man 2016, p.223-235)
Economic Value Of Libraries In The Digital Age
Demand for ebooks has been progressively increased in relatively all libraries in Australia from 69% in 2013 to 97% in 2014 to 99% in 2015. Although 62% of data is still used in print format, the increase in demand for e-resources is twice as much as a hard copy. In terms of the digital age, libraries with extended hours and services can be beneficial as users can access content 24/7. The convenience of portable PCs and access to unlimited online data via databases, journals, reference works, and ebooks has increased the expenditure of online subscriptions by 21% and ebooks by 19%. (Luther 2011, p.12)
Establishing resources into cloud-based administration and innovation simulates a conclusive economic investment to cope up with the modern digital world. Even though it’s an inconvenient task to digitalize the whole hardcopy data collection and shift completely to computerized content, but it’s essential to stay conscious of the modern advanced digital age. During this digital age, the important cost factor that the libraries have to face is the running cost of administrations which comprises of artificial lighting, mechanical ventilation, and other services. But it’s very important to have a strategic plan and goals for these services to retain their economic value. (Luther 2011, p.12)
The economic reality of the Sci-tech library at The University of Sydney is absolutely different from its economic value. University libraries such as Sci-tech are mostly funded by income tax and sales tax where the expense is spent in high volumes on staff and other services.
Libraries are evolving with the changing world in terms of social infrastructure and the services they provide. From the five-story underground archive of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago which can only be accessed by robots to the informal and flexible interior of Orestaden’s Public Library, libraries as an asset are changing with time and from feedback from its users. New features such as cloud-based digital infrastructure, intelligent building systems, informal interaction spaces are being introduced in library spaces to accommodate the new lifestyle and learning methods in this modern digital age. To understand their valuation, universities and respective authorities need to evaluate and implement these services essentially to sustain in the long run and cope up with the requirements of the hyperactive younger generation. (Arup.com, 2019)
Economic Feasibility Studies Of Sci-Tech Library
To comfort our active minds in this virtual learning environment, we consider options like good hearty materials with delicate and comfortable settings to relax. Libraries nowadays are dedicated to giving you an immensely pleasurable and comfortable experience of learning by using leather materials, bean bags, stools, and interior design used as a way to divide different zones, sometimes also leading to a green area with patio. All these features are derivatives of the primary idea of converting boring ideology of libraries into efficient and robust facilities.
Sci-Tech Library (part of Jane Foss Russell Building) of the University of Sydney was designed by John Wardle Architects in association with Wilson Architects – a 5-star green energy rated building. It faces the gardens to the south and forms a landscape of terraces and seating which helps in building up the form for individual and group sitting areas. It accommodates both noisy and quiet acoustics for both formal and informal spaces/teaching area. To show how to encourage diverse learning environments, social unity, and multi-disciplinary information sharing, the design of the building demonstrates vivid color palettes and exciting curves (John Wardle Architects, 2019). The library has a footprint of 3806 square meters with a budget of $50 million. It accommodates only 600 seats, 147 computers with a 13.6 FTEs of staff working hours at information helpdesks in addition to back-office management staff members. The library houses literature for various faculties like Agriculture and Environment; Veterinary Science; Architecture; Design and Planning; Engineering and Information Technologies and Sydney Medical School (Cenzato J., 2019). It is no surprise that this library is not very attractive in terms of its location and visibility but its interior design and planning illustrate a sense of both calmness and drama, unlike any other public library. There is a significant increase in the number of students enrolling in the university each year. With this increase, the Sci-Tech library is packed in terms of utilization and sitting spaces. 30% of the floor area is covered by shelves which are a big portion considering the number of seating spaces at university peak hours(Fig 1.). Cleverly, the distinction between spaces is defined in a way by using partitions, bookshelves and smooth blend of ramps and staircases.
Sci-Tech invites in many ways for people to connect with their facilities. In the library, there are several group rooms and one meeting room for students to book online for group study or discussion. Sci-Tech also hosts a tiny exhibition space that hardly contributes to the library’s overall value. ThinkSpace is an area, located on the second floor of the Jane Foss Russell Building, which encompasses facilities like exhibitions, 3D printers, 3D modeling machine, 3D scanner, and touchscreen pods. It is located perfectly so as to invite students and bypassers who are often left intrigued. The concerning authorities keep facility update with the latest technology and innovation machines to boast the learning environment and promote new technologies to students. These facilities are free to use for students, some of which have a nominal fee. ThinkSpace, similarily like Sci-tech, acts as an independent facility that demonstrates a fresh new life.
It would be hard to beat the Sci-Tech library in terms of its wealth and richness but libraries of university campuses like La Trobe, University of Technology Sydney and Fisher Library (Principle library of the University of Sydney) are much more efficient with elements such as hibernation pods, acoustics rooms, flexible sitting spaces, exhibition spaces, and silent zones to support modern needs for the future.
Increase in desk/study space
With increasing students enrolling every year, there is a high demand of sitting spaces in the Sci-tech library. It was observed that the number of sitting spaces in the library facility is not sufficient for the students during university peak hours and during the end-semester period. Due to space constraints, more space for sitting cannot be introduced but the existing arrangement of furniture can be reorganized and altered in a way to utilize the space much efficiently. Silent reading zones can be placed away from any visible or audible distraction. Additionally, the Sci-Tech library is also not open to students 24/7. Students feel the library should be open 24/7 just like the Fisher library at the University of Sydney campus.
Intelligent Building Control Systems (IBCS)
The introduction of intelligent building systems can empower the existing facilities by being more productive and efficient. Interactive maps and mobile apps can help find and locate books on shelves to save time and energy. If we produce a heat map of the Sci-Tech library, the highest readings will be in the sitting areas. With such information in mind, temperature and lighting conditions can be controlled using IBCS to balance the statistics. Automation of lighting can help in turning off the lights of the areas not in use for a notable period of time and support proper energy management. Maintaining good air quality by monitoring carbon dioxide (CO₂), microbes and pollution can lead to healthy psychological benefits in a learning environment.
Community engagement programs
The Sci-Tech library is open to students, University of Sydney staff members, community members and the public. Since this library is used by a variety of people, programs can be held to engage them more in learning and actively participating. Cultural events, talks, exhibitions, workshops, book fairs, and educational film screening can be organized to give Sci-Tech library a multifunctional facility outlook. These types of programs can help in uplifting the economic value of the Sci-Tech library and can help produce fundings and assistance from the city council, government, and benefactors.
In the 21st century, libraries have shifted way past from the simplistic ideology of just ‘books’ as their only helpful and useful resource but rather constantly converting into a temple of tranquility and knowledge. The transformation from physical data to virtual data is an endless topic of debate among the younger generation which is in favor of the new digital world of e-books and online databases system, than the supporter which prefers physical entities like paperback books that can never be replaced. Some studies even show that we do not ‘need’ a librarian anymore in a library; electronic librarians who can answer all your queries can be accessed online 24/7. But the librarians are not threatened by these statistics as they feel that the students who have issues related to the library feel the need to ask someone in person for assistance.
No matter how much libraries evolve with technological advancements, they will continue to be of great economic value for the people and university students. As of present-day, ‘library’ is more than just a physical space to loan books, it will always hold the title of a facility providing knowledge.
- Arup.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.arup.com/-/media/arup/files/publications/f/future_libraries_digital.pdf [Accessed 9 Sep. 2019].
- Cenzato J.,2019 – Lecture with Mr. John Paul Cenzato
- John Wardle Architects. (2019). Jane Foss Russell Building | John Wardle Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.johnwardlearchitects.com/projects/jane-foss-russell-building/ [Accessed 11 Sep. 2019].
- Ko, Young Man (01/09/2016). ‘Factors affecting users’ assessment of the economic value of university library services’. Journal of librarianship and information science (0961-0006), 48 (3), p. 223-235
- Luther, Judy. ‘Economic reality for libraries.’ Information Today, Mar. 2011, 28(3), p. 12+