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Learning Space Toolkit: A Resource for Designing and Sustaining Technology-Rich Informal Learning Spaces

February 8, 2013

By Kristin Antelman
Project Director, Learning Space Toolkit

The Learning Space Toolkit is a freely available resource designed to support the full lifecycle of an informal learning space design project, from defining the goals and needs to designing the space to supporting it. The Toolkit, a collaboration between North Carolina State University, brightspot, and Strategy Plus at Aecom, was funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Whether you’re a librarian, architect, administrator, or facility manager, you can use the Toolkit to plan, evaluate, and support your new space. By using the Toolkit, you will be better equipped to orchestrate the planning process so that learners at your institution are better supported, and so that your spaces, technology, and services are working together to support your goals.

Each of the Toolkit’s six sections focuses on a different aspect of designing and implementing informal learning spaces. Within those six sections, you’ll find a detailed discussion of that aspect, as well as related tools and resources. The Toolkit sections are: Roadmap, Needs Assessment, Space Types, Technology, Services, and Integration.

Roadmap: Provides resources to help get started and manage planning for learning space projects, including project phases, stakeholder roles, and communication.

Whenever you’re designing a new learning space, it’s essential to know as much as possible about the current and envisioned users of the space.

Need Assessment: Offers methodologies and tools for learning more about users’ needs and motivations and provide tips to help you use that information to make design decisions.

Seeing examples of what others have done is critically valuable when designing innovative and effective informal learning spaces.

Space: Identifies a dozen informal learning space types and five “neighborhood” types.

The Space Browser tool enables you to browse examples of those space types and to filter by core informal learning space activities (collaborate, create, focus, share and socialize).

Technology:  Offers an overview of the technology design lifecycle and how it relates to the other aspects of a learning space project

The section provides contextual information on how to think about the role of technologist, how to engage the wide variety of partners that become stakeholders in the various phases of a project, and how to evaluate the full lifecycle costs and sustainability of a technology.

Services:  A package to assist in designing the service model and staff for your learning spaces, including support for workshops to develop journey maps, service blueprints, location planners, and tools for estimating staffing needs.

You’ll find an interactive ServicePlot tool for organizations to diagnose their service philosophy and envision their future philosophy, based on their values and the needs of their customers.

Integration:  This section offers an integrated budgeting tool.

Budgets for space (including facilities and furniture costs), technology (including initial, maintenance, and refresh costs, and infrastructure), and staffing (by area and level) are often developed and managed in isolation.  This section provides an overview of the technology design lifecycle and how it relates to the other aspects of a learning space project.

We want to hear from you

We are interested in all feedback on the Toolkit and especially how it might be used in your own context. We also know how valuable examples are and that is an area of the Toolkit where more content will make the tool even more useful. Please consider sharing your thoughts, or suggesting space type examples. You can contact us through links on the site or at

National Leadership Grants for Libraries