Pop Quiz

What are we learning about current trends in higher education?

Question #1: Are there differences in specialized academic libraries?

We recently worked on a medical school library, and seized that opportunity to look at a half-dozen peer institutions and add them to our database. Interestingly, the biggest difference between medical school libraries and general academic libraries was…

A. Significantly longer operating hours
B. Lower percentage of group study seats
C. Strict no food policy
D. Higher percentage of carrel seats

Reveal Answer ...

D. Higher percentage of carrel seats

Interestingly, contrary to trends in general academic libraries where we are seeing a decline in carrels, this quiet (silent!), individual study continues to dominate medical school libraries.

Our interviews with faculty, students, library administration, and hospital staff indicate that this remains the predominant study modality, even while medical schools are moving to team-based learning settings in the classroom.

Want to see how your medical school library compares to peer institutions in these bar graphs? Contact us, and let’s start a conversation.

Question #2: How does your library stack up?

Since 2006, institutions of higher education have seen a change in the quantity of available library seats as it relates to enrolled full time students*. Is it a:

A. 7% decrease
B. 2% increase
C. 5% increase
D. 12% increase

Reveal Answer ...

C. 5% increase

Average quantities in the libraries older than a decade that we have surveyed is 15.3%. In libraries dating from the last decade, this ratio increases to 20.6%.

On a campus of 5,000 students, a delta of 5.3% equates to 265 seats.

Want to see how your library compares to peer institutions in these bar graphs? Contact us, and let’s start a conversation.

Question #3: What does it take to compete?

Over the past couple years, one of the least important things to our clients in their active learning classrooms has been…

A. flexibility of use (changing modes)
B. proliferation of technology (projector, document camera, team based flat screens)
C. simplicity of controls (lighting, daylight controls, technology)
D. the squeak of dry erase markers and the hum of discussion

Reveal Answer ...

B. Proliferation of Technology

Technology is an important part of active learning. However, our interviews with faculty and students alike indicate that the ability to change modes on the fly, readily control and access features of the room, and create a setting for group work trump what is often perceived as technology for technology’s sake.

On a campus of 5,000 students, a delta of 5.3% equates to 265 seats.

Do your classrooms support these trends? Are you hearing other requests from your faculty and students?

Let’s start a conversation.

Question #4: Where do students sit?

In the last 10 years, the blend of seat type has shifted in academic libraries. The seat type that has seen the largest decrease has been…

A. Carrels
B. Work Stations
C. Soft Seating
D. Open Tables
E. Group Study

Reveal Answer ...

A. Carrels

Carrels and individual study remain an important part of the academic library experience. Many students still thrive in this setting. However, it is increasingly marginalized by the trend toward collaborative work, group projects, and “together but separate” social learning.

Very recently, we have been witness to some reaction to open collaborative work areas, in the form of quiet or “silent” floors or rooms. Additionally, we have seen emergence of new furniture types such as the Steelcase “brody” chair which appears to want it both ways – out in the open, yet individual and private!


Concerned about the seat type blend of your library? Want to see how your blend might compare to some of your peer institutions? Contact us, and let’s start a conversation.

About Our Methodology

Since 2011, Jones Arch has surveyed academic libraries at over 50 institutions. This survey process entails visiting the library in person to tour the building and document our findings. We believe that this methodology (as opposed to online research or phone interviews of librarians) gives us insight into the place that cannot be captured remotely. This way we maintain consistency with our interpretation of seat type classification, can better identify a library’s strategic partners, and document conditions that are unique to an institution’s culture.