Removing the invisibility cloak: Using space design to influence patron behavior and increase service desk usage
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In small branch libraries, patrons seeking assistance from library staff outside of the dedicated single-service desk often results in large staffing inefficiencies. This paper presents a case study in which the authors applied behavioral psychology models to a branch library’s space arrangement to identify possible factors influencing patron service point choices. A subsequent full space rearrangement was instituted which utilized human behavior research, service desk design principles, and low-cost methods to create a space that reduced barriers and influenced patrons back to the main service desk. The paper reports on the 11-month study that followed and the impact the rearrangement had on patron behavior. Results indicate that simple rearrangement of existing furniture and equipment into new configurations have direct influence on service desk usage and can encourage new patron behaviors. Space and human behavior are inherently connected and library managers should establish goals for how they envision their spaces to be used and arrange them in ways that encourage wanted behaviors.