We recently dropped the last pieces of hardware into our new group collaboration rooms. We have a dearth of group spaces in our library, so these three new areas will probably be a hit with our patrons. As we were planning the rooms we decided that we wanted to include a computer for group work, and since everyone in the group needs to be able to see the project, some sort of large-screen monitor seemed to be the way to go. After considering several options, we finally decided on 40″ Samsung TVs as the group monitor. There’s nothing unusual or innovative about this layout, but we didn’t have it before, now we do, and I think it will be very popular with patrons once the fall semester gets underway.
In the meantime we’ve noticed and interesting phenomenon with the rooms. We’ve had the rooms available for some time before the hardware arrived, and they were already getting a lot of use. We still see groups using them since the new hardware has been installed, but many times the groups are just working around the table and ignoring the computer and TV. There could be several reasons for this. Perhaps some of these groups just need a place to meet but don’t really need to view or assemble presentation materials together. Or perhaps they are using the equipment but not at the moment that I happen by.
There is a third possibility that we’ve discussed, and it’s perhaps the most interesting of the three. We’ve wondered if the patrons just don’t realize that the equipment is there for their use. Granted, we have not advertised these new tools. However, they’re sitting in a public space, and the patrons are definitely using the space. One colleague suggested that since it looks like an expensive setup, the patrons are hesitant to use it. If that’s the case, that will certainly change soon. However, it raises an interesting question for me. How often do libraries roll out new services or spaces that, by their very design, somehow communicate that they are NOT for patron use? Perhaps this is just an anomaly. Or perhaps it’s really happening. I’ll have to scratch my head over this one for awhile.