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Posts tagged living campus

Turning into a living campus

I have been writing about the idea of a living campus for some time now. And now it is that time of the year again. To sit back, clean your laptop, read the blogs or posts you had kept aside and notes you have made the past year.

For a year-and-a-half the TU Delft Library has been enriched with the inspiring programmes Studium Generale is organizing as of 1946 at the TU Delft (SG is now part of the Library organisation). Their main target group is students, but other people interested are always welcome. In 2014 I have attended a few of their events.

The variety is huge, I listened to Desanne van Brederode talking about friendship at one of the monthly “broodjes filosofie”. When do you call somebody a friend, how come that a friendship lasts forever (or not) and when or how are friendships created? Or earlier this year I went to a thematic movie night at “filmhuis Lumen” , composed by Rolf Hut, where he invited Nick van de Giesen to talk about and watch documentaries with as main topic “food production”. Nick van de Giesen had a wonderful line that night about knowledge, and when we I asked him later by email to repeat it, this is sort of what we remembered it was (translated from Dutch): “Contrary to many other means of production knowledge-intensive production is not expensive, it is cumulative and can be transported freely throughout the world ”.

Only recently I attended one of the Sunday morning Van Leeuwenhoek sessions in the TU Delft Science Centre, this time provided by Andy van den Dobbelsteen. Of course Andy is now famous from the solar decathlon team with the Prêt-à-Loger home, but in this lecture he showed what he changed in his own home to make it more energy-friendly, though even for him the maximum allowed 10 MWph is still a heavy challenge!

And there is so much more happening in, at or around the TU Delft campus.  I am looking forward to another year full of life at our campus.

With thanks to Han Heijmans, a beautiful picture of our Library on 16 December 2014.

With thanks to Han Heijmans, a beautiful picture of our Library on 16 December 2014.

The library environment, finding a shared purpose

The meetings of the Liber Architecture Group are great to reflect on library spaces. I had the opportunity to combine a lecture in Helsinki, Finland, with some site visits and talks.

The first preseminar visits were on Tuesday May 6, and our starting point that day was exactly in our line of thinking. Valeria Gryada, from Aalto University, the Otaniemi campus, presented a way of involving the users in the design process, which we are also doing in Delft (see presentation I held on Friday to be published at the LAG website, prepared with Liesbeth Mantel).

The greenhouse project of Aalto University was a very low-budget (50 kEuro) project, where a student team rooted the basis for the set-up of the area. The students really get to know the insights of the specific school. Normally a design project is finished after transfer, but in this case it just started after the furniture had been brought in, with observing, learning and improving. Further her presentation had three more interesting elements, being: 1. mentioning the number of alumni (80000) as key element of the university details; 2. focusing on the areas of strength of the library; and 3. positioning the library as the place where “the university is seen”, as neutral ground. The library’s vision of seeing the learning centre network as a living organism seems to be a future proof one.

We visited two more libraries this first day, the Viiki Korona infocentre and the Terkko Medical Library. Both are examples of places that opened 15 or 16 years ago and that are now thinking of redesigning their locations and getting rid of the book stacks. Walking around in these places opened the discussion about what really remains after removing the books. A library context (adding meaning to meeting) adds commitment for a shared cause, knowing that all people in that learning environment are there for a shared purpose.

A lot of students put off their shoes.

A lot of students put off their shoes.

Aalto University - the techncal school.

Aalto University – the technical school.

Liber attendees listening during Terkko tour.

Liber attendees listening during Terkko tour.

The second preseminar (half) day was a visit to the beautiful music centre and the Sibelius Library. This building was created by putting the function as first priority (the acoustic designer’s voice was always listened to). The concert hall has glass windows though, and the stage is put in the middle of the hall, as in an arena. Music researchers, teachers, artists, students and lovers can work, listen and create together, a very well-thought concept. For us in Delft the word “creation” is also very important, and we would really like to see this realized in our physical library, both to show what was created by Delft’ hands, and by feeling the creative atmosphere during your study or work. This makes a nice bridge to my earlier thoughts about a library as a commitment to a shared purpose.

The stage and the windows in the concert hall.

The stage and the windows in the concert hall.

Pike statue outside the music centre.

Pike statue outside the music centre.

On Wednesday May 7 in the afternoon Kirsti Lonka, Prof. of Educational Psychology, University of Helsinki, held her keynote lecture, and tried to engage us participants by asking us to think how we should design our spaces for the digital natives (and digital immigrants). She explained the differences between these two groups, and these are quite huge. We of course still have to accommodate both. In her opinion e-learning is dead, and blended learning is king. Every third meeting Kirsti said  should be a face-to-face one. Blended learning environments combine physical, virtual, social, mobile and mental spaces of learning – beyond the classroom! This is a very short wrap-up of her presentation. Surprisingly though was that she referred to the library as a space attached to the learning centre, of course connected, but not (yet) included or renamed. That is not how we position our library in Delft.

Then the topic moved to office work spaces for librarians and a few trends were highlighted. One of them was the idea of an activity-based office where different work profiles should fit into, being the anchor, connector, gatherer (collector) and navigator. Or the acknowledgement that the library staff should not think of their own spaces as separate from their users’ spaces. We all need to discover, gather, analyse, create and share.

I would like to summarize the second day of the seminar, Thursday May 8, with a tripadvisor (and I am selecting just a few of the presentations!). Today we could go to see the Vienna Resource Centre. The biggest question is whether the space is embraced by the users, or remains an artistic impression, You could only know by really visiting the site. If you wait just a few months you could see the Sleeping Beauty of Riga, the castle of light or national library, to be opened end of August. Elif Tinaztepe, from Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, won the 2012 Collaboration Award for their user involvement in the DOKK1 project for Aarhus. Within a year you will be able to visit it. A bit further down the road (first half of 2016) lies the opening of LILLIAD Innovation Learning Center (a refurbishment of the Library), where they are creating a place to support the culture of innovation. And the day ended with a double trip to Kaisa House, first in the afternoon during the normal tour and then with Liesbeth Mantel and Francine Houben in the evening after our conference dinner.

Kaisa House opened September 2012

Kaisa House opened September 2012

The Library still has a lot of bookshelves, but a very nice design.

The Library still has a lot of bookshelves.

After our exciting evening adventure our last day of the seminar arrived on Friday. In the morning we heard in the first session technical aspects of the libraries built and to be renovated in Bern (Switzerland), and the huge building (85000 sqm and capacity of 320 km records shelving) of the national library of France. Then I could present my talk about our Living Campus and the use of personas. It was very nice that Francine Houben, our architect, made the connection in her presentation afterwards and showed the difference in the floormap of our Library between 1998 and 2014. Further I heard again her very nice presentation about the Birmingham Library, never boring. Francine also asked all librarians and architects to speak up to the politicians so that they would be able to understand that a library is more than books (and as I put it “more than a building”). The seminar was closed by the lecture of Anne Hanneford (the Hive at Worcester), which is a truly combined library for both the main public, researchers and students and in all ways connects the city with the university. They won the Times Higher Education Award for Library Team last year.

Concluding remarks: the library should not just reach out to its users, but put  them central in their innovation process. Without interaction with other disciplines, other ideas, other people you will have no innovation. So make sure that you not only facilitate this process for your users, but also apply this to your own staff and actions. And always keep your eyes and ears open. You can add context and people will find their shared purpose in the library environment that suits them best.

A welcome from TU librarian

In two weeks Cycling for libraries will pass (and stop @) by our Library. I am not a cyclist, though three years ago I started with a tradition (the question is when is a habit turning into a tradition?) with a friend to take a bike-ride to “Kijkduin” from Delft, a 15-mile distance, at Midsummer night. We talk along the road, she knows the way, we stare at the sea once arrived, take a picture, walk, eat, drink, and go back again.

So a tradition can be a good thing; it can give structure and stability in your life (or your organisation for that matter). But beware, you should not overdo it (you should never overdo things by the way), before you know it you forget the reason and the tradition becomes a “stand in the way”. Last year was very special – we saw a fox, camels (yes, there was a circus in the Hague) and 8 baby swans! Wasn’t that something.

The cycling for libraries event is a good tradition and I will be happy to welcome them (just one day before Midsummer!).
Over the years traditions do change. This year we will do our bikeride, but now we have more friends joining us and we will have a proper dinner, though the sea remains an essential part of the evening. All this as prelude to explain why I changed my weblog address from mtlibrary…to The principle stays, i.e. to (try to) give monthly reflections or reports of events I attended, but I slightly adjusted it!

Why would you walk the extra mile? What makes U tick? Just a picture to illustrate what we are working on in Delft. I will tell more about this during the evening visit of the unconference on June 20.


It is the Library. What else.

I never came to post this one – I guess that the ending of a year might be a good momentum for almost anything, I must say that it is far from original (I know), but it is an attempt to talk about a thing (libraries) without explicitly mentioning the name (all the time). Another reason to write this was that I do not want to play a defensive role; I want to take another approach. Inspired by (I do watch the telly when working in a hotel room) The Richard Dimbleby Lecture (BBC, 28-02-2012), Ken Robinson‘s TED talk on Changing the education paradigms, Steven Johnson‘s Where good things come from and Thomas Friedman (2011. That used to be us.).

I found this nice picture of TU Delft Library on Arvind Jayashankar’s weblog

So finally I sat down to it. In a hotel room in a Birmingham, February 28th, almost 29th, 2012. I decided that I should now put down the framework and that this framework could be transformed into something wilder, or deeper, or more.

The whole idea is that we all are working to make the world a better place. Surely we as being people working in science. And good science needs good sustainable support.

What is it that science, the scientists, the students, the research&developers of our companies and anyone else involved in science need to make this world a better place? Let us assume that they work in a university or company or study at a place where the basic elements such as their lab facility, a stable state-of-the-art ict infrastructure, and things as their salary or for students their exams and classes are being facilitated. But what could make the difference?

Firstly they all need access to see what already has been done, to proceed where no-one has gone before, and to understand what could go wrong. To study as a new learner or to gain deeper insights in new fields or being a life-long learner. Access for others to their own production and products (articles, labdata, software, experimental settings, videos, images, blogs) if possible, so that they themselves and/or their institute or company are “recognized”. Viewing the latest weblectures from anywhere they decide to be because that is the place they can best carry out their research, thinking, talking or just offers the best studyplace.

And not just access would do, real science means the possibility to dig deeper, to understand more, to repeat your experiments, to link to possible bypasses and go on. That takes time, it takes patience, it takes talent and it costs some. It means thoroughness or richness, posing and opposing theories and getting fundamental discussions that might end nowhere, but sometimes mean it all. To read and learn from your suggested books, but finding that this is not enough, doing extra assignments, taking up special projects, being curious and being proud of it. Knowing that you can find your stuff in journals, via databases, and ebooks, but enriching your playground with other inspiration via TV, film, podcasts, music, websites or magazines.

And nobody can make the world a better place just on his own. You need others, you need criticism, you need serendipity, you need to meet your peers. Of course you can travel to your congresses, but you also need this meeting point nearby. It is a sort of access point, but a physical one. You can drink your coffee, tea, juice, go through some magazines, talk and meet with both the PhD or colleague you know from your department, but also the people you accidently bump into, the lecturer you at last can ask that one question, to attend “just-nice-to-know” or “hey-isn’t-that-sort-of-what-I-am-doing” events and watch the news, not on your stand-alone tablet, but sharing the experience with others. You might get some advice from experts, e.g. about writing or publishing or how things work with intellectual property at that place. Any doubts you might have on ethical issues in your research or other practice can be shared with peers and debates are encouraged.

You also use this space to see your business relations and vice versa. And will it make the world a better place? The best ideas know their origin in places like these. Let’s call it acquaintance. A healthy economy is not just driven by greater efficiency, but also by people inventing more goods and services. And people need inspiration to come to innovation.
So we have had access, richness, and acquaintance as basics needs for science to prosper. Let’s add one final one to this, and this is progress. That is what science (and the people working on and in it) adds to the world, right?
And if we need to think of the good sustainable support to accommodate this, what is it we think about? Who might be able to provide access to the latest results, and can help you gain visibility? To make sure that the research can be done thoroughly? Facilitate a space to meet up with your study, business or research acquaintances? Hear and see what you have not heard before? Where everything breathes progress?
It is the Library. What else. To make the world a better place.
<The English words are perhaps a bit farfedged – I could not find better words for the four Dutch ones “toegang, diepgang, omgang & vooruitgang”>


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“I’m a university”

On October 17, 2012 I was invited to attend and speak at the symposium organised by the CIUP on the creative campus. My topic was about the transformation process of TU Delft Library to a Library Learning Centre and our steps into implementing this concept further into the campus, as a Living Campus.

Let me first tell something about CIUP, because I had not heard about it before. This institute has an enormous campus/park where students from different universities and colleges in Paris occupy houses. It was founded in the early 1920s and the origin of this campus was to prevent another civil world war, just after the first world war – by making sure that the  groups of different nations would work and live together. The Cité Internationale’s 40 houses welcome some 10,000 residents a year, including students, researchers, visiting professors, artists and sportsmen from over 140 countries. It has both accommodation and a wide range of services (featuring a theatre, library, restaurant, sports facilities, support services and more). The Cité’s park spans 34 hectares and is home to the most extensive  range of student accommodation in the Paris region.

Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris – International Creative Campus

I tried to visit the Dutch College but it was under construction. It is considered one of the masterpieces of architecture in the Cité internationale. It is the only building in France designed by Willem Marinus Dudok, one of the leading architects from the Dutch school of the 1920s and 30s. 

According to Beverly Margaria, director for student services at the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris, the institute is not just about housing. It wants to help their students to understand each other. They should talk about this utopia once they go back to their homes, and have a different view of the world. They “provide people with wellbeing”.

The library at CIUP (I did not visit!). 

The meeting was an intense one, in total 80 people attended, ranging from urban architects, philosophers, projectleaders, university support staff and so on. Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, from OECD, talked about student mobility and the future of student housing: growth of demand, growth of short stay and offering new services. His statement: “We are moving away from the idea that the campus is separate & isolated, where people are exclusively set aside to meet and think.”

Louise Béliveau, vice-rector for student affairs and sustainable development at the University of Montreal, explored a study they carried out in 2009, in which the excellently-rated student services turned out to be relatively poorly used. She told us what the university has done to improve this. We met the night before – Louise helped me during dinner because my French was not fluent enough and we could talk English.

For me the best talk was given by Joon-Seek Lee from the Seoul National University (I asked later, he was from the IT department). The title of his talk was: “I’m a university – self-directed online learning behavior research @snu”. SNU recently changed their digital learning environment from Blackboard to Moodle. And he wondered how long Moodle would last. Students are mixing and matching online tools to cover their diverse learning activities, and what the university does is just a fragment of what they use. Students make their own learning paths, and structure their own education. SNU carried out a research with 200 students and found interesting stuff. Their students use multiple devices simultaneously; the students do not explore content outside of their inner circle; and use exploring tools a lot and learn socially with a free (instant) messenger.

Alain Bourdin, from l’Institut français d’urbanisme and codirector Lab’Urba, did a wrap-up of the day. He had a somewhat philosophical ending. He noticed that we were all planning according to the path we know. We should understand that the way we use and circulate knowledge will change in 20 years’ time. He also mentioned the difference in time. Routine time (e.g. taking courses) is a different type of time than intense (or highlights) time. The places where we do this are also diferent. The Rolex Centre from Lausanne (which was also a topic of the day, just before my own presentation) is an intermediate thing in between the two different sets. We must enter the next game, what will tomorrow’s universities look like?

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