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How We Use These Data

 

Although the phrase "location, location, location" does not have the same cache or even meaning it used to given our digital world, the presence of a physical library space in higher ed is still a critical piece of student success - especially in community colleges. So why do we have physical spaces in libraries?
  • Community college classwork is often on top of a student's work life, their family life, and - of course - in many cases, on top of multiple educational settings in the global and local educational community.
  • Pedagogy, tailored and varied to meet students where they "are," include active learning which is often accompanied with learning with peers or in cohorts and - although not part of the curriculum support - requires locations where students can collaborate with each other for learning experiences.
  • Pedagogy requiring group activities dictates the need for space - and while digital and virtual spaces - as well as adjacent spaces external to the college are used, spaces often need quiet, technology - hardware, technology - software and opportunities for exchanges - and these are NOT found in outdoor gazebos or "social staircases," patios and other "sticky" spaces as defined by architects and planner.
  • Although the library hallmark is no longer only the "shhh" mentality nor guarantee, libraries do try to create spaces where low or no noise and - more specifically - spaces to focus and concentrate - are available.
  • Although not all community college students can be put in the "have not" category, ALL students today are pulled in many directions financially and libraries strive to provide cutting edge, more current hardware and software - as well as more robust wifi - for their student bodies.
  • Educational materials or learning resources come in many formats and on many "levels." College libraries value, invest in and make available diverse formats for curriculum-support content as well as curriculum-delivery content. These formats meet the needs for the larger numbers of students who have smartphones or iPads where the content and the interactions with that content - are not possible with small devices - but ARE available through library technology.
 
These data provide baseline information on what ACC provides and where. And although the goals may be to have students move among support services in a region, the reality is we - in the Austin and surrounding areas - have no real public transportation system to move east and west and only a limited access to transportation north and south. In addition and partially due to this, traffic is considered a detriment to moving among work and home or school and home much less campus to campus. Therefore to assume that a student will take classes at one location or more and then move to another location for support for that class - is not good business or even responsible. And - when you couple the fact that the college no longer has a delivery system to move resources among campus, again, it is not a business plan to think that students will. It should also be noted that almost 10k of ACC's students may be in high school settings and therefore too young to drive and - certainly - not have their own car to use to move among campus locations easily or at all.
 
These data illustrate spaces and the availability within that space. A few things should be noted:
  • Total seats are the total number of seats for students within that space and computer seats are - within that total number - the seats with research work stations or desktop computers.
  • "Potential" enrollment data are taken from ACC's Master Plan and these numbers need to be updated given more recent partnerships, course offerings and expanded initiatives such as 8 week programs at NRG.
  • Library spaces were NOT planned based on enrollment projections and are not "modern" or accurate numbers. Example - Highland Campus which is listed as @9,000 enrollments projected (but larger numbers have been used in speeches (such as upwards of 15 to 20k) certainly do not correspond to 104 seats in the library- even after the library's recent small expansions.
  • Hours open are the current post-pandemic numbers. As we fill our vacancies and students return to campuses for resources and studying as well as in-person classes - numbers of hours open/available will increase.
  • Interesting stats include:
    • in the central region there are 358 seats for 18,600 students
    • in the south region there are 290 seats for 7,000 students
    • in the north region there are 493 seats for 12,600 students
  • A library is not a library is not a library. That is, an architect or planner or even administrator thinking that "ACC students can just use their local area high school or public library" is mistaken. High school libraries do NOT have their materials - either in print or digital form and their librarians are not aware of assignments, higher ed learning outcomes or curriculum needs or LMS and public libraries not only are not aware of these things but also have significant competing roles and responsibilities of their own. Also, it's not their job and it is ACC's job to support them - and - even more importantly - accrediting bodies feel the same.
So - thanks for reviewing the data - although we are always heavily involved in the initial design of campus spaces, we always wish we had more "say so" in the final decision making for size and design of libraries - both with the external architects and with internal Facilities decision makers and ACC's decision making administrators, but we don't. We will continue, however, to take an active role in any design and implementation possible!
 
*Potential Enrollment numbers are from the ACC Masterplan, listed as Ideal Capacity on the "Existing statistics" page for each campus. 

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