Purdue directions in learning space design

As Aalto University Library is going through renovation and the redesign of our library spaces and learning centers, learning space design is one of most pressing contemporary issues in our agenda. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down Purdue’s leading learning space designer, Tomalee Doan who is also the head of the humanities, social sciences, education and business libraries of Purdue. Through our conversation, I felt like I found various interesting approaches into learning space design.

Purdue University Libraries consists of a total of 14 libraries dispersed around the campus area. I’ve understood that 13 of them are specialized libraries (such as Siegismund Engineering Library, Life Sciences Library, Parrish Library of Management & Economics and Mathematical Sciences Library) and that the one exception is the John W. Hicks Undergraduate Library. From here one can study the locations of different libraries on campus: http://www.lib.purdue.edu/sites/all/images/main/libsmap.pdf

The John W. Hicks Undergraduate Library will be the pinnacle of learning center design in Purdue and it is currently under renovation. Its design is, in my apprehension, highly informed by the success of the newly renovated Parrish Library of Management & Economics. Parrish Library will serve as the concrete design example of this entry. All the pictures in this post are from the Parrish Library. The renovation was done in three different phases, of which one can find e.g. this high quality presentation: http://prezi.com/xza1u1qyhbiu/rethinking-library-spaces-purdue-universitys-renovation-of-the-management-and-economics-library/

The Parrish Library renovation is overall very well documented, and these materials can be found from here: http://www.lib.purdue.edu/libraries/mgmt/about I recommend them to all of us who are working with the design of the new learning center. Hopefully this entry can however add to the previous a more detailed insight into the thinking of Purdue’s leading learning space designer.

Informed design process

The design process of the Parrish Library was highly informed by research data on student behavior. I understood that in the Parrish case, the data were comprised by survey studies. In the design process of the new Hicks undergraduate library, this was taken even further as the Purdue University Libraries hired an anthropologist to lead an investigation of how the students used the library spaces.

The design process of Parrish Library was also informed by outside experts, such as an architect, in whose selection Purdue took great care. Also stakeholders such as faculty, IT and media had their inputs in creating the new active learning environment. As there seemed to be an abundance of Purdue University faculty (i.e. not Libraries faculty) that wanted to collaborate in designing these new learning spaces for the use of their future classes, Purdue Libraries prioritized in working with the faculty members that were participating in the Impact program (http://www.purdue.edu/impact/). This is another great initiative where the Libraries are working alongside the University faculty to steer their courses towards informed learning. Also students participated in the process by e.g. choosing the furniture for the library.

The framework or guiding ideas behind designing the learning spaces

Tomalee Doan stated very interestingly that one of the guiding ideas behind the renovation was the “essence of the scholarship” in the environment. In my apprehension, this referred to not just to providing access to the resources, but e.g. making the environment flexible to address whatever needs of the students at any given time of the day. If I got it right, it is also reflected in the main trichotomy of division of different study areas into: classrooms, collaboration sites and quiet workspaces.

The biggest change made to the original environment was the removal of unnecessary printed material, which allowed the stacks to be removed and thus the reusing of the space. There were also arrangements in e.g. the reference desk practices to enable the use of the space for 24/7. The circulation desk appears to be very light and all of its contents are easily lockable. There’s also a great security arrangement, where the students are recruited to look after the security of the place during non-faculty hours.

A Success Story

The renovated Parrish Library has been a true success story. New types of user needs seem to emerge when the environment is flexible in terms of hours, movable furniture, equipment and services. For example, many students would prefer to use the Parrish Library as a site for their presentations. All this concentrated flexible functionality within a single library space! Awesome. I am very keen to follow how the Purdue Libraries will market and present the new Hicks Undergraduate Library opening in the fall.

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antti.m.rousi@aalto.fi Twitter: @AnttiRousi
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Libraries and Geospatial Information System (GIS) services

What is GIS?

Geospatial Information Systems are used for examining geographically referenced data (also ‘spatial data’; ‘paikkatieto’ in Finnish), meaning that the data these systems manipulate has a geographical location. Location can be combined with different attributes, which makes studying the differences between locations possible. As GIS methods can be applied to very different fields, such as economics and social sciences, these systems should not no longer be thought of as a separate field of study, but as more of an method to be applied into a broad spectrum of scientific fields. (see e.g. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2010, 4.) GIS methods are also, in my current apprehension, one of the key methods in studying and predicting climate change (write “gis on climate change” to Google Scholar).

Kiuru, Mäkelä and Huvio (2012) examined the potential of open data, especially geographically referenced data, in increasing small business’ growth in Finland. They estimated that the open data will create at least about 15% growth into the turn overs of Finnish enterprises. In the background, there is the Finnish government’s decision in principle issued in 2011, that data produced by public sector parties need to be open and made possible for reuse with equal rights. (See Kiuru, Mäkelä & Huvio 2012, 1.)

With the emerging Finnish open GIS data repositories, such as the opening of National Land Survey of Finland’s data in 2012, GIS skills could even be thought as a skill set of an informed citizen (see e.g. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2010, 17). What a great opportunity for the Finnish libraries to strengthen their position as the heart of Finnish information society!

What libraries have to do with it?

North American libraries have been taking a very active stance in creating awareness and supporting GIS skills. For example MIT’s Library  (http://libguides.mit.edu/gis) “supports the MIT community by providing expertise in the identification and use of data and tools associated with Geographic Information Systems projects both inside and outside the classroom”.

Description of MIT’s GIS services includes the following:

  • GISlab based on first-come first-served principle in a classroom that is equipped with e.g. ArcGIS, Google Earth Pro and Geolytics softwares. A GIS specialist is available in the classroom during predetermined hours.
  • Partly overlapping with the above (at least in my understanding) is giving consultancy on the communities GIS projects. Consultation time is limited to an hour.
  • Organize and provide links to resources that provide open GIS data.
  • Organize and provide links to resources that provide open GIS instruction and tutorials.

What is also interesting, is what the MIT libraries promise NOT TO DO for GIS related project done in their community, e.g.:

  • “We do not do GIS projects for people”
  • “GIS services cannot support projects that a patron does not have the time or ability to complete on their own”
  • “GIS services does not provide support for standard homework assignments … “
  • “GIS services does not create maps for publications … “

According to Michael Fosmire, who is the head of the PSET division in Purdue, there is several ways that the libraries can enhance the GIS related topics in the university community, such as e.g.:

  • as GIS users are often dispersed in different fields across campus, the libraries offer a centralized entity for coordination and development of GIS services
  • GIS specialists in libraries can support student and researcher learning, which results in competitive advantage
  • Help different fields achieve the potential that lies in interdisciplinary GIS usage
  • Make geospatial information available to the public, by e.g. creating easy to use portals.

Purdue Libraries started to advocate GIS, at least to my current knowledge, already in 2004. Other North American libraries such as North Carolina State University Libraries, Duke University, MIT Libraries and for example Indiana University Libraries have their own programs as well. The services offered by these libraries vary also nicely, and they could be a good way to start benchmarking this issue to Aalto level. A short survey based on the web sites of prestigious scientific libraries of Europe, it seems like GIS instruction is still off agenda in Europe. Libraries e.g. like ETH Zurich’s Library, TUM library, EPFL library, HU library and KTH library are not providing GIS services.

What Finnish libraries are doing with it?

In my current knowledge, nothing, at least yet. Perhaps we could use an Aalto student to create a report of GIS service possibilities in Aalto’s context? Much investigation should be done to understand to possibilities within our context. Quantum GIS (or QGIS) is one the open source softwares available for free use. If you’re interested about actual GIS analyses, just type “QGIS tutorials” into Youtube. Look also for GIS MOOCs in e.g. Coursera.



Kiuru, P., Mäkelä, J. & Huvio, P. 2012 Avoimen julkisen tiedon hyödyntämisen potentiaalista suomalaisissa yrityksissä. School of Business, Small Business Center, Aalto University. Available: http://pienyrityskeskus.aalto.fi/fi/info/ajankohtaista/view/2012-06-08/

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2010. Location: the Unifying Factor – Finnish National Spatial Data Strategy 2010-2015. Publications of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 3b/2010. Helsinki: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Available: http://www.paikkatietoikkuna.fi/web/en/sdi-in-finland


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American Society for Engineering Education 2013 Conference in Atlanta

During my stay I had the privilege of also attending 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition on June 23-26. I feel lucky that the conference dates had such a good match with my visiting scholar period. Atlanta is such an awesome, hot big city too! Or at least such it appears to be through the eyes of a Finn born on the Finnish countryside.

The conference is organized around different divisions, Engineering Libraries Division (ELD) being one of them. So I enjoyed the program of the ELD here at Atlanta ASEE 2013. Here are some picks from the program. I am hopeful this entry would give its reader a surprisingly good overall picture about the topics currently discussed within the engineering libraries of United States. If or when I have missed something please feel free to point this out in the comments section.

Libraries’ Roles in Open Data

The possibilities that open data publishing creates were also a topic of ELD’s technical meetings. National Science Foundation’s mandate announced in 2010 to require data management plans in their funding applications has been a thriving rationale for American libraries to create data management services. The Libraries’ Roles in Open Data session was a very successful session that presented data curation and management initiatives within American libraries in different phases of their lifecycle. This session provided some important background info concerning the topic of my previous entry. It also stressed the fact that there will be an emerging market from data services and it is up to the libraries whether they capitalize on this opportunity as a way providing relevant, future services to our academic communities.

Jay Bhatt from Drexel University provided very good insights on the first steps on creating data management services. Again the NSF’s mandate has created a market for services that ensure that the research data is handled and archived properly. Jay pointed out that the data management materials of both MIT and Purdue are good benchmarks for your own services. Drexel will also develop their own version of the DMPTool (link), train the liaison librarians to give consultancy on data management plans and give workshops on researchers.

Karen Vagts from Tufts University elaborated on the role of the research librarians in the data management services. Giving consultancy on data management plans is a challenging task as research librarians are no grant writers by training. For example, a research project might have participants from several institutions with different readiness and resources for data management, but only one data management plan. She stressed prudently that a lot of the work that she has done on data management involves making connections between the patron and different specialized resources, such as promoting open access options or connecting patrons with metadata specialists. Tufts University Library will develop instruction programs for students in data intensive disciplines. Karen envisioned that open data and data management needs is to become the new norm.

Megan Sapp Nelson and Amy Van Epps from Purdue presented the most advanced phase of data management tools and consultancy provided by the libraries. Megan Sapp Nelson pointed out that in data management consultation, it often takes a while to reach a common terminology with the researchers. Purdue University Libraries has developed a light version of Data Curation Profiles through which they simultaneously create a data management plan for the interviewed researcher. The Purdue representatives also contemplated on the diverse issues library’s face when providing data services, for example, the relation of data management plan consultancy and researchers working with sensitive data, which includes issues such as data anonymizing and research consent procedures.

Megan also shed insight into the background of PURR, which was examined in detail in my previous entry (https://blogs.aalto.fi/purdue/2013/06/03/purr-and-data-curation-profiles/). University administrations support was also critical in creation of PURR and it was a collaborative initiative from libraries, ITaP (Information Technology at Purdue) and OVPR (Office of the Vice President for Research). The thriving rationale for this collaboration was again the NSF requirement of data management plans in the research proposals submitted to them. PURR and the Purdue University Libraries data management plan consultancy services are not, at least yet, a part of the loop of writing research grant applications.

As a side to this topic, also Professor Michael Carroll of Washington College of Law pointed out in his distinguished lecturer presentation that data management services is something for which there will be a definitive need in the future and it is up to the libraries whether they choose incorporate these services into their repertoire or whether some other instances will be providing them.

ELD Lightning Talks

ELD Lightning Talks was a fun session with an interesting arrangement. All of the presenters were allowed 3 minutes to present their current work. A lot of interesting initiatives were presented, including several presentations about restructuring and organizing library learning environments. Most often the new spaces very equipped with circular tables with power and network connections provided for laptops, like in the Larry Thompson’s (Virginia Tech) presentation. This kind of a design was seen to create more interaction with the users of the space.  Some libraries also borrowed iPads for both students and courses to use.

Charlotte Erdman had a very interesting talk about a statistical analysis of e-book usage that they had performed in the Purdue University Libraries. If I understood correctly, they combined the analysis of OPAC downloads with the usage information from vendors and scrutinized this data through the library classification system. Perhaps surprisingly, the e-books classified into veterinary sciences were the most used. Also interesting presentations were Jim Clarke’s (Miami University Library) presentation on library led First Year Research Experience project (FYRE), and Jill Powell’s (Cornell University Library) presentation of predatory open access journals. Are there predatory open access journals in our catalog coming through the DOAJ portal?

Fresh Perspectives in Information Literacy

In the United States, the information literacy discourse seems to me to at least somewhat evolve around ways of embedding information literacy instruction or informed learning pedagogy into the university curriculum. This seems to differ from our stance in Finland, in which our teaching is traditionally well embedded to teaching of the departments. Having said that, the latter does not mean that there would not be creative and high quality information literacy endeavors going on here in the States, on the contrary. What follows are some picks from the ELD session called Fresh Perspectives in Information Literacy.

Jon Jeffryes of University of Minnesota reported about a very interesting blended learning course on data information literacy/management. The course was based on 7 modules and used Google Docs as means mediating assignments to the students (a practice from which they have know deferred from). The course was designed is for students without previous knowledge on the subject and can be found from here: z.umn.edu/datamgmt  

In addition, Amy Van Epps from Purdue University reported interesting results gained from her research with first year’s engineering students. The students seemed to do well in evaluating the trustworthiness of individual websites, but again had difficulty in identifying when to use in-text citations. Also the InfoSkills group, which consists partly of Purdue University Libraries faculty members, presented a work in progress report about an instrument designed for assessing student skills on both critical thinking and information literacy.

Last but definitely at not least, in one of my personal favorite presentations, Amy Buhler from University of Florida showcased how University of Florida has used gamification to instruct their graduate students on responsible conduct of research. They have developed a total of three games in collaboration with their IT personnel. You try them yourself through this link: http://blogs.uflib.ufl.edu/gap/category/uncategorized/ Pretty cool IMHO.

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PURR and Data Curation Profiles

There are various impressive data services and initiatives, which can be found from the Purdue University Libraries. In this entry I will discuss the PURR (Purdue University Research Repository) and Data Curation Profiles. I feel that here are several topics that neither us, Helsinki University Library or Oulu University Library has yet considered. All of the information below is available through Purdue University Library’s website. I will however present a “Finnish digest” of it as follows.


Purdue University Research Repository (purr.purdue.edu) is a very cool way to manage, publish and archive data in research projects. When it was designed, it was not meant to compete with already existing solutions of data management and publishing that some fields already have. Moreover, it was designed to provide core data services, such as giving published datasets DataCite DOIs, providing collaboration spaces for data sharing and creating solutions for safe archiving of the data, for various different scientific fields ranging from e.g. agricultural sciences to humanities. In short, it is a great example of what a general data management tool provided by a library could be. Also “PURR comes with a set of default policies and functionality that address privacy and confidentiality, intellectual property and copyright, and access and sharing of data” (source: https://purr.purdue.edu/about/usehub). One of the key personnel behind PURR is the brilliant and friendly Michael Witt (http://oldsite.lib.purdue.edu/research/witt/).

There are four main ways in which the PURR can be used:

  1. It helps researchers to create data management plans (abbr. DMP) for funders to review (https://purr.purdue.edu/dmp and https://purr.purdue.edu/resources/14/download/DMP_Self_Assessment.pdf). Very cleverly it also provides researchers with description of the PURR as a tool for their data management to be used in their DMPs (https://purr.purdue.edu/about/usehub).
  2. It allows researchers to upload their data and share it with collaborators. Researchers can also invite collaborators from other institutions.  Once a project is initiated, the project site also includes cool features, such as (https://purr.purdue.edu/projects/features): updates and microblogging, to-do lists, project notes, file management, publishing.
  3. It allows researchers to publish their datasets (with DataCite DOI, which I think is very cool and advanced). The data can be published in various formats (like e.g. in excel-sheets and zip. packages). The published datasets are equipped with: the abstract considering the research, supporting documents, versions, reviews and questions. It also very wisely gives instructions on how to cite the published data set. Here’s a sample dataset (https://purr.purdue.edu/publications/1004). And what is also cool, is that the published dataset are indexed to Purdue’s Primo catalog (same as our Alli): http://purdue-primo-prod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?dscnt=1&dstmp=1369919852307&vid=PURDUE&ct=AdvancedSearch&mode=Advanced&fromLogin=true
  4. It allows research to archive their data after the completion of the research project. PURR is working towards the ISO 16363 process to become a certified trusted digital repository.

The mere notion of DataCite DOIs (http://www.datacite.org) is, in my opinion, already on itself something that we have overlooked in the Finnish academic libraries. For example, publishing a dataset may be seen as a way of increasing one’s research impact in forms of e.g. receiving more citations. A dataset with a DOI is certainly more convenient to cite than a dataset without one. If you look at the DataCite members, you will notice that there are both institutions like our CSC (e.g. Swedish National Data Service) but also individual libraries, such as EHT Zurich. And to be clear, Finnish CSC is not listed as a member institution.

If we wander into technical territory, PURR is based on HUBzero open source software platform, which was developed here in Purdue. I cannot really call myself a computer wiz, but if I got it right, HUBzero requires PHP proficient guys or girls (http://hubzero.org/documenta tion/1.1.0/webdevs/index), which I know we have got in our library. It is also a close relative of Joomla! If I remember correctly, it was actually developed from or from parts of Joomla!

As to the similar services in Aalto’s context, the Linked Open Aalto Data Service addresses mostly data about Aalto courses, publications and people, not research data as such. I know that CSC (Center of Scientific Computing) in Finland is preparing data management products. However, if you compare CSC’s product descriptions (http://www.csc.fi/english/research/datastorage) and PURR’s short description above, you will find that the PURR offers much more flexible and multifaceted tools for managing data in research projects. Actually, I do not think that CSC currently provides any services similar to PURR individual traits.

And what is more, the Purdue folks market PURR with a very cool video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw0IJj7FqA8&feature=em-share_video_use). How do you top that?

Data Curation Profiles

Okay, what exactly are we talking about when referring to data curation? Purdue’s Data Curation Profiles User Guide uses the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois definition: “the active and ongoing management of data through its lifecycle of interest and usefulness to scholarship, science, and education. Data curation enables data discovery and retrieval, maintains data quality, adds value, and provides for re-use over time, through activities including authentication, archiving, management, preservation, retrieval, and representation.” (http://www.lis.illinois.edu/academics/programs/specializations/data_curation) The Data Curation Profiles then are not so much of a library service as such, but a toolkit for providing empirical evidence on which next generation library services can be built and based on. The unit of analysis is a single dataset that e.g. the researcher finds has the most scholarly value or is most representative of his or her work. This dataset is then approached through the researcher’s viewpoint by examining e.g.: description(s) of the dataset(s), the lifecycle of the dataset, sharing (and willingness to share) of data, providing (and willingness to provide) access to the data e.g. through an open repository, organization and description of data, how could the data be discovered by different audiences (if discovery is desired), intellectual property issues concerning the data, tools, data management and data preservation.

Procedure behind conducting Data Curation Profiles is well documented and published under creative commons license on the website datacurationprofiles.org. A key personnel behind the Data Curation Profiles is the alike brilliant and friendly Jake Carlson (http://blogs.lib.purdue.edu/jcarlson/). In some instances he is referred to as Data Research Scientist, which, in my opinion, tells a lot from the nature of Data Curation Profiles. He has written many excellent articles on the matter, such as: Carlson, J. (2012) Demystifying the Data Interview: Developing a Foundation for Reference Librarians to Talk with Researchers about their Data [articleReference Services Review  40(1). 7-23.

The basic procedure, to my current knowledge, has three main guiding templates:

  • Data Curation Profiles User Guide
  • The Interview Work Sheet for conducting faculty/gradute students/? interviews with using the Interview Worksheet (also interviewers manual is available)
  • Data Curation Profile Template to be used in conjunction with grounded theory methodology to generate the final profiles.
  • All of these documents are available through: http://datacurationprofiles.org/

So to conduct Data Curation Profiles is actually to conduct qualitative research on about the different kinds of datasets produced at your university. The structure of the Interview Worksheet is modular and different modules can be altered according to field specific needs. For example the interview worksheet used in researchers working with GIS data differed significantly from the standard interview worksheet. The target group of Data Curation Profiles is not only the primary investigators, but Purdue Libraries have worked with also e.g. graduate students in creating these profiles. If I got it right, there’s a notion that also the interviewees have gained from the interview, as it has helped them to formulate their vague needs concerning data curation and also consider the needs beyond data’s immediate use (more info on the Data Curation Profile User Guide: http://datacurationprofiles.org/download).

Data Curation Profiles are not to be confused with Data Management Plans, on which Purdue University Libraries also give consultancy on (see e.g. the Data Management Plan Self-assessment tool also by Jake Carlson: https://purr.purdue.edu/resources/14/download/DMP_Self_Assessment.pdf and also the Data Management Plan overview template: https://purr.purdue.edu/dmp/dmpoverview). Data Management Plans are required by many significant funders and the Purdue University Libraries have certainly tackled this need in their context. Data Management Plans or DMPs were also shortly discussed in the previous PURR section.

If I understood right, it is hard to define which Purdue Libraries services can be seen to have directly derived from Data Curation Profiles, but I understood that they have informed many, such as PURR and Data Management Plan consultancy. One of the spin-offs is also the Data Information Literacy project, which examines what these needs originated through the “data deluge” could mean at level of library instruction (http://wiki.lib.purdue.edu/display/ste/Home;jsessionid=03E2BCF41EAE2A42619ECC90EA6547DA). Jake Carlson is the mastermind behind this one as well.

The Data Curation Profiles seem like an excellent example of library pioneers venturing to get a foothold on new emerging fields by providing empirical evidence on the emerging needs of their patrons. The Purdue Libraries have then used this evidence to create feasible next generation library services. Many completed profiles can be found from the http://datacurationprofiles.org/ and used for the benefit of the entire library profession. Overall, I think there is actually an abundance of great data service initiatives here in Purdue. Are these services something that we can still continue overlooking in Finland? Decide for yourself.

Oh, and there’s yet one more data service from Purdue Libraries: Databib (http://databib.org/about.php), which is a great tool for locating online repositories of research data. 🙂



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Made it!

It took nearly 30 hours of traveling but I couldn’t be happier to report that I am starting my visiting scholar period here at Purdue University Libraries. Thank you Purdue University Libraries’ faculty and staff for the warm welcome! The temperature here rises to nearly 30 degrees celsius and the campus is very pretty! The Purdue campus is in West Lafayette from which there is for about an hours drive to Indianapolis.

My office will be located in the Siegesmund Engineering Library which is situated in the Potter Engineering Centre. I still need a map to navigate around the campus. With the help of Purdue Library faculty, I was also able to find housing from which I can easily commute to the campus.

During my stay here I will participate in the InfoSkills research group meetings and help to conduct protocols and analyze data of information seeking behaviors of students. I will also review Purdue’s work on Data Information Literacy, a sponsored research project from the federally funded Institute of Museum and Library Services. I will be also be observing and contributing to the collection of Data Curation Profiles and learn about PURR and data services offered by the Libraries.

Concerning this blog, I think I will write full posts on at least the following themes:
– The tenure track process of Purdue University Libraries
– The campus design and the different learning environments
– The research and data services
Maybe I will come up with more themes later on. You can also wish for a theme! Just leave a reply or email me.

Hopefully the staff of Aalto University Library will come up with lots of questions which I can then further elaborate here at Purdue! Feel free to comment these posts or send me an email! This blog could be a simple and fun way to broader the interaction between our libraries. Purdue University Libraries’ faculty and staff are very welcome to comment or correct either the entries or the comments and also to ask about the services and practices of Aalto University Library.  I will write new posts shortly.

With kind regards,



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