Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rolex Learning Center - Lausanne, Switzerland

Next time you are in Europe, try to fit in a trip to Lausanne's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale where SANAA, a Japanese architectural firm, has designed a unique multi-purpose academic support facility.  

"The Rolex Learning Center...will function as a laboratory for learning, a library with 500,000 volumes and an international cultural hub for EPFL, open to both students and the public. Spread over one single fluid space of 20,000 sq metres, it provides a seamless network of services, libraries, information gathering, social spaces, spaces to study, restaurants, cafes and beautiful outdoor spaces. It is a highly innovative building, with gentle slopes and terraces, undulating around a series of internal ʻpatiosʼ, with almost invisible supports for its complex curving roof, which required completely new methods of construction." http://rolexlearningcenter.epfl.ch/

Flickr photostream March, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

U. of Calgary - Information Commons to Learning Commons

U. of Calgary's Information Commons was an exemplary innovation when it opened in August, 1999. (The original website is archived at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/IR/infocommons/)

On December 24, the original Information Commons in McKimmie Library will close, to be reborn on January 3, 2011 as the Learning Commons in the new Taylor Family Digital Library, known as TFDL.

Susan Beatty, Information Commons Head at McKimmie, co-wrote a wonderfully descriptive account of the development of the IC in her paper "Collaboration in an Information Commons: key elements for successful support of eliteracy."  The paper also points the way to an expanded, broadly conceived gathering of academic support services that will make up the new Learning Commons in the TFDL.

A fuller description of the TFDL by Tom Hickerson, Calgary's Vice Provost, Libraries and Cultural Resources, and University Librarian, is in the video archive of his presentation at OCLC's Distinguished Seminar Series.  The presentation is entitled "Convergence of Knowledge and Culture: Calgary's Design for the Future."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seattle U. Opens Learning Commons

Dedicated on September 30, 2010.  Here's the website's description of the new Library/Learning Commons:
"Lemieux Library & McGoldrick Learning Commons combines new construction and renovation to offer a state-of-the-art facility of approximately 125,000 square feet.  

This new facility blends student academic support services, scholarly research, collaborative learning, and social interaction in a technology-rich, light-filled environment.
The Library and its Learning Commons Partners -- Writing CenterLearning Assistance ProgramsMath Lab and Research Services -- promote student success through the provision of integrated services, collaborative programs, and effective referrals that draw on a variety of academic professionals in a single facility."
See pictures and video from the library dedication.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

U. of Washington Opens Research Commons in Allen Library South

The iconic image of the information commons is a large array of PCs and iMacs for accessing electronic resources. UW's new Research Commons has a four word motto -- Talk. Share. Connect. Research. -- emphasizing the importance of collaboration and interpersonal contact.  Twenty-five computers actually take up little of the Commons footprint, which features open spaces with wheeled furniture, whiteboard walls, and group work areas.  Lauren Ray's blog keeps you up-to-date on the project.  Go there for a link to a Flickr slide show.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grand Valley State University (MI)

Groundbreaking for the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons will be Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI.

From all indications, this is going to be a new benchmark for the integrated learning commons.  The video gives a detailed picture of a wonderfully rich environment for all kinds of learning: collaborative, technological, scholarly. It won't be finished until 2013, but look in on the website now and then to see how it's coming along.

And this video was produced by Steelcase after the project was completed.

The Race to Bookless

It used to be that when you wanted to take the measure of an academic library you asked, "How many volumes does it have?"  That question seems to have been stood on its head.  In the "race to bookless" the University of Texas at San Antonio has claimed victory.  The Applied Engineering and Technology Library opened on September 8, 2010, claiming to be "the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus."  Although it is relatively small (80 person capacity), it does have "similar features to what are commonly called 'information commons,'" according to the report in LJ.

Friday, August 20, 2010

UNC-Wilmington Grand Opening

Randall Library Learning Commons celebrated with a grand opening on August 19.  Read the local paper's account.  Flickr photo set documents construction since December, 2009.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Assessment of the Learning Commons: Three Perspectives from CNI Spring Meeting

 “Learning Commons: What’s Working” is a 66 minute video from the Coalition for Networked Information spring meeting, April, 2010.  John Culshaw, University of Colorado, Boulder; Anu Vedantham, University of Pennsylvania, and Joan Lippincott of CNI spoke on assessment of learning or information commons.  Available on the CNI Channel on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/channels/cni)

Monday, June 7, 2010

In the Works - Seattle University

Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, currently under construction at Seattle U., will "renovate the 1960s-era library and build an adjoining high-tech learning commons to serve the university’s 7,000-plus undergraduate and graduate students."  New learning environments include an Information Commons, the Academic Support Center, and the Media Development Center. The $55 million project is partially funded by a $10 million challenge gift from the Gates Foundation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ohio State's Thompson Library Featured in Chronicle of Higher Education

Scott Carlson's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated May 30, 2010, calls the renovation of Thompson Library at Ohio State U. "one of the most ambitious on a college campus in recent years, and certainly one of the most important library projects in some time." The library re-opened last September amid some controversy over a $109-million renovation that involved the transformation of the old stack tower into a glass-enclosed atrium and required the removal of 700,000 books to off-site storage.

Links to:

WOSU-produced 5 minute video on YouTube

Pictures from the library's website

The 2004 planning document from the OSU Libraries task force called The Learning Group. Scott Bennett, author of Libraries Designed for Learning, was consultant to the group, which saw as its goal the development of "a strongly and pervasively student-centered view of the OSU Libraries."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Opportunity knocks: Learning Commons at North Carolina State U.

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, is looking for a Director, Learning Commons Services, to lead the planning, management, and oversight of the Libraries’ technology-equipped learning spaces, ensuring continuous innovation and excellent user experience. Works closely with students and faculty to identify and meet their changing needs, focusing on both the library’s physical facilities and its online environment.
Plays a leadership role in collaborative efforts to adapt and integrate Web 2.0 technologies, mobile platforms, and other emerging tools into delivery of information and services.

For required qualifications, vacancy announcement and how to apply, go to:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

U.Texas San Antonio -- Phase Two

Phase Two (completion date: November, 2010) will integrate tutoring and the Writing Center into the John Peace Library Information Commons:
  • New spaces on the library's second floor for the Tomas Rivera Center (supplemental instruction and tutoring units) and the Writing Center will create a one-stop shop for student intellectual engagement and support.
  • An expansion of the Information Commons will integrate an additional 50 computers. Ten new instruction rooms also will be constructed.
  • By popular demand, a new quiet study room will be constructed in the northwest corner of the second floor.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the Works - NYU Bobst Library Research Commons

NYU's renovation project will transform two floors of the Bobst Library into a "research commons."  Work will be completed in November, 2010.  A libguide charts the progress and describes the planning process.  The project is the realization of a study begun in 2005 and reported in 2007 that lays out a detailed roadmap for creating "an environment that could be adapted to the needs of the future of scholarly research."  The full report of the study is available at: http://library.nyu.edu/about/KPLReport.pdf

Monday, May 17, 2010

In the Works - Coastal Carolina U.

Construction of the Bryan Information Commons, a 15,000 sq ft addition to Kimbel Library, will begin this summer with a target completion date of summer 2011.  A student advisory group played a major role in the design of learning spaces and the selection of furnishings.  The campus is less than 1/2 hour from Myrtle Beach, SC.

UPDATE: Construction photos from April, 2012.

In the Works - SUNY New Paltz

Sojourner Truth Library at SUNY New Paltz will undergo a $14 million renovation, including an Information Commons, scheduled for completion in 2012.  They have also launched a search for Head of Information Systems, a veritable Johannes Factotum, responsible for "the overall direction, administration, and management of all library systems and information technologies. Specifically, the incumbent will serve as system administrator for the library’s integrated system (Aleph), enhance and monitor the library’s web site, supervise computer staff in equipment maintenance, oversee the applications for interlibrary loan and electronic reserves, implement new initiatives to streamline operations and improve existing services, and provide expertise in the areas of emerging technologies."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Conference in Florida - June 7-8, 2010

Florida State U. is hosting "Academic Learning Spaces: Invention, (Re)Invention and Innovation" in Tallahassee, June 7-8, 2010.

Crit Stuart, formerly at ARL and Georgia Tech, is the facilitator. Stuart is an advocate and successful practitioner of user-centered design, i.e., avoiding the template or one-size-fits-all approach to planning new or renovated library/learning spaces.  ARL posted a very good bibliography, New Thinking on Space & Facilities, with links to five of Stuart's publications and presentations.

Registration is limited to 150 to allow for lots of hands-on work during the two-day conference.

Friday, April 9, 2010

In the Works - Old Dominion University

Morel Fry, Administrative Services Librarian at Old Dominion U. in Norfolk, VA, passed along some information about ODU's Learning Commons project, which is being documented and tracked via the Learning Commons Wiki.

"Old Dominion University Library in collaboration with our Office of Computing and Communications Services and University College is also in the process of building a Learning Commons. Construction will start in May and add 8000 square feet to the library as part of a 20,000 sq. ft. renovation of the first floor into a learning commons with enhanced technology, University college services and library services. The commons will be open 24/5, will have 5 collaboration rooms, presentation room, multi-media room (with sound booth), and have a café. There will also be a 30,000 sq. ft. addition to the library that will house University College staff. At ODU, University college services include freshman and transfer orientation and parent programs, placement testing, academic advising, mentoring and tutoring, learning communities, career management, experiential learning evaluation, developmental course offerings, academic continuance, and student success programs."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

...and Beyond -- Goucher College's Athenaeum

When I worked in Providence a while back, the Athenaeum on Benefit St. was a favorite place to spend a quiet hour or two, browsing the stacks or looking up a title in the half-high card catalog, some of the cards hand-written by calligraphic angels.

A new Athenaeum at Goucher College (Baltimore, MD) opened last September in a beautiful new building that should be on your list of site visits if you are anywhere near the east coast. In what is fast becoming a model of new academic facilities, the Athenaeum is a library, information commons, art gallery, public forum in a three-story atrium, radio station, restaurant, meeting rooms. Even an exercise area overlooking the atrium. And it's open all the time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In the Works - York University Learning Commons

Renovation will begin in April with a target opening date of September for the new Learning Commons @ Scott Library. Features include the Collaboratory, the Hub, the Salon and two Group Studies. "At the heart of the Learning Commons will be key academic supports and services offered by research, writing and learning skills partners."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

PA Information Commons Conference Announced

"Information Commons in the Wild: Lessons from the Field" a conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Library Association - College and Research Division at U. of Scranton on June 15, 2010. Scott Bennett, author of Libraries Designed for Learning, is the keynote speaker, with panelists from Lafayette College, Penn State, U. of Penn, and U. of Louisiana - Monroe.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Essential Reading - Theory, Planning and Case Studies

The latest two issues of Journal of Library Administration (v50 n1 January and v50 n2 February-March 2010) are chock full of good reading on all aspects of the commons phenomenon. The January issue includes conceptual and contextual essays by well-known commons experts Donald Beagle, Joan Lippincott, Martin Halbert, Michael Whitchurch, Leslie Haas and Alison Stillwell. The February issue is a compendium of case studies: Providence College, Texas Christian, Arizona, Georgia, Calgary and Sheffield universities.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the Works - Libraries Planning for Commons

Grand Valley State U. (MI)$70 million renovation and new construction of the Pew Library and Information Commons, scheduled for completion in 2013.

U. of Tennessee - Chattanooga: "Student services and technology are front and center in the new UTC Library. The entire building is designed with the robust infrastructure needed to support today’s and tomorrow’s technology devices. Students, staff and faculty can bring their own laptops or use one of the Library’s 400+ desktops and notebooks. The digital creation and conversion center will give students a lab where they can create and edit videos or convert analog media to digital, with help from specially trained staff. The learning and information commons will provide more than just computers and printing; Reference Librarians and Technology Specialists will be there, ready to assist, teach and troubleshoot problems with students. July 2010 is the target for beginning construction and we hope to move in by Spring 2012."

California Polytechnic - Academic Center Projected opening in 2013 "The Academic Center & Library, a joint collaboration between the Academic Affairs, the Kennedy Library, and a number of partner groups including the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Information Technology Services (ITS) seeks to provide enhanced learning, teaching, and research opportunities at Cal Poly. The project includes renovation of the existing Kennedy library, addition of space to alleviate deficiencies, replacement of classroom space removed for the building expansion, and development of specialized campus classrooms."

Rosemont College (PA) will begin renovating Kistler Library in mid-May for a September launch of the Remembering Sr. Helen Mary Weisbrod, SHCJ Information Commons "The Library's lobby and Reference Room will be completely changed into a single space with workstations, group study rooms, and a new information desk, all designed to enhance and encourage collaboration."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Princeton U. - Report on Kindle pilot program

Here is the abstract from the executive summary of Princeton's experiment with the Kindle DX e-reader. The full report is available from the program's website.

"In the Fall of 2009, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Princeton conducted a pilot program using electronic readers (e-readers) in a classroom setting. The pilot was conducted with three broad goals. One was to reduce the amount of printing and photocopying done in the three pilot courses. The second was to determine if using this technology in the classroom could equal (or better) the typical classroom experience where more traditional readings were used. The third sought to explore the strengths and weaknesses of current e-reader technology to provide suggestions for future devices.
E-reader technology offered the promise of delivering a large number of digitized documents on a lightweight device with a long battery life, and a display that mimicked the reflective qualities of actual paper. The consumer market in e-readers had already proved it was possible to read on these devices; we sought to see if they could be useful in higher education by conducting a pilot using e-readers in several courses.
Three courses were selected for the pilot, involving 3 faculty members, and 51 students. The e-reader used in the pilot was the Amazon Kindle DX.
The goal of printing less in the pilot courses was achieved: pilot participants printed just over half the amount of sheets than control groups who did not use e-readers. The classroom experience was somewhat worsened by using e-readers, as study and reference habits of a lifetime were challenged by device limitations. This pilot suggests that future e-book manufacturers may wish to pay more attention to annotation tools, pagination, content organization, and in achieving a more natural “paper-like” user experience. In summary, although most users of the Kindle DX were very pleased with their “reading” experiences with the Kindle, they felt that the “writing” tools fell short of expectations, and prevented them from doing things easily accomplished with paper."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

5th Annual Canadian Learning Commons Conference

The Queen's Learning Commons will host the conference, June 16-18, 2010 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The focus is on the future, and, to tell from the summaries in the program descriptions, the future looks to be collaborative, student-centered, mobile, and ever-changing.

Program details here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

12 Keys to Library Design

Thomas Sens, architect with BHDP Architects in Cincinnati, has developed a succinct and useful checklist for planning and designing academic libraries. There are two versions of it. A short version appeared in Library Journal in May, 2009, and a longer one in Building Design + Construction in December, 2009.

1. Envision the library as place.

2. Invite students and other stakeholders to the table.

3.Make collaboration a must.

4. See that technology drives the bus.

5. Plan for change.

6. Use the library to attract and retain top students.

7. Optimize spaces between spaces.

8. Consolidate emerging specialty spaces.

9. Take advantage of the commons.

10. Rethink library programming.

11. Design for environmental sustainability.

12. Get creative with funding.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lest We Take Ourselves Too Seriously

The mostly lol blog A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette has advice for would-be Information Commoners on a tight budget: "Do it on the cheap by renaming your existing computer lab with a hand-scrawled "Information Commons" sign."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Collaborative Learning Commons - UNC - Asheville

U. of North Carolina is especially rich with innovative takes on the commons concept. Latest is UNC - Asheville's Collaborative Learning Commons:

"The Collaborative Learning Commons (CLC), currently being developed at UNC Asheville's Ramsey Library, brings together a variety of elements to foster student exploration and inquiry in new and creative ways. It is not a static computer lab. Rather, it incorporates the freedom of wireless communication, flexible workspace clusters that promote interaction and collaboration, and comfortable furnishings, art, and design to make users feel relaxed, encourage creativity, and support peer-learning. To this, add some specialized software, audio-video capabilities, self-help graphics services, color imaging, and production/presentation software catered to student learning and needs and it becomes a one-stop collaboratory for out-of-class assignments, writing, research, and group projects."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

...and Beyond: U. of Nevada - Reno's Knowledge Center

Who hasn't felt that the phrase "information commons" has worn out its welcome?

University of Nevada - Reno throws another hat in the ring: "Knowledge Center." And it's not just a part of the library, the Knowledge Center is the main university library.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

U. of North Carolina -Wilmington has posted a website for its Learning Commons, now under construction in Randall Library.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Planning and Assessment - The Commons at Georgia Tech

The good folks at Georgia Tech have posted a very useful set of documents on planning and assessment: focus groups, questionnaires, a case study by Herman Miller, and fascinating essay by freshman Erica Hocking on the the Commons as a "Sacred Space" for learning.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Google Books Settlement

ALA's Washington office links to briefs, statements and summaries.

New York Review of Books published several articles by Robert Darnton:

And Peter Murray's blog Disruptive Library Technology Jester keeps tabs on all the key documents and decisions.

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