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Since 2012, Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Li Ka Shing Library has been actively responding to three primary drivers of change: The first is the University’s educational initiative to encourage blended learning and project based learning; The second is the need to increase the quality and quantity of Library spaces, to create more quiet spaces, to improve the zoning for teaching and learning activities in support of collaborative, team and project based learning; The third is the Library’s own Culture of Assessment initiative to encourage decision making and continuous improvement based on data and evidence.

In late 2013, the Library received funding to begin staged renovations based on a master planning exercise initiated in 2012 which included observational studies, focus groups and interviews to inform space planning. Additional assessment methods included a 2013 LibQual survey, an SMU Student Association survey, student, staff and faculty feedback collected over 3 years.

While the master planning for the Library space renovations were underway, librarians and staff were participating in the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training offered through SMU’s Office of Business Improvement. Methods learned in the training informed space planning decisions and now are informing assessment of the space renovation.

In November 2013, priority library spaces targeted for immediate implementation were identified with objectives to increase seating, provide more flexible multi-use learning and teaching spaces. In August 2014, the renovations were completed which included a 24/7 Learning Commons area with a separate entrance, with two shareable technology enabled project rooms, a reflective area for quiet study, two ‘phone booths’, study booths and the Hive, a flexible learning space equipped with innovative technology for collaborative, project based learning.


At the completion of the first term, December 2014, the Library is performing an assessment to measure the outcomes and impact of the new learning spaces. The assessment activities are providing an opportunity for librarians to apply knowledge and methods as learned in the Lean Six Sigma training to build and enforce management competencies related to continuous assessment and improvement. The results of the assessment will be used to inform continuous improvements to the spaces and to demonstrate the extent the Library, as a flexible learning space, contributes to the success of teaching, learning and community activities.

The assessment will also contribute to the literature that examines how students and faculty engage with learning spaces designed to encourage discussion, collaboration and project based learning. To fully benefit from the assessment, both quantitative and qualitative evaluations and deeper analysis will be undertaken.

Design, methodology or approach

The methodology applied involves both qualitative and quantitative measures to determine the extent the new spaces are meeting the needs of faculty and students; and, to increase the understanding of how the library spaces directly contribute to teaching and learning success.

Methods used, within the Six Sigma framework of Design, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control, includes: focus group results; quantitative and textual analysis of suggestion board feedback; observational studies and LibQual surveys. Each of the methods applied in 2015 will be benchmarked against 2013 results to study the impact.

The previous works majorly focussed on the quantitative studies to study the various aspects of library spaces. However, the qualitative analysis which comes majorly in the form of free text is not analysed for evaluations. In this work, with support from SMU’s School of Information Systems, we adopt algorithms from text mining research to aid the analysis of the users’ feedback which is expressed in free text. Such analysis aids in the study correlated aspects as well as to discover the users’ opinions or suggestions towards the library spaces.

Originality and value of the proposal

Findings will be of interest to other libraries embarking on library space transformation projects as well as libraries interested in using space assessment as a professional learning development exercise.


academic libraries, Singapore Management University, library spaces, evaluation, business improvement


Library and Information Science


Proceedings of Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, 11th, 20-22 July 2015


Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services

City or Country

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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