Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clough Commons at Georgia Tech: Library + Academic Support Services

A few years ago there was a flurry of activity, and some controversy, surrounding the merger of academic libraries with their campus IT organizations.  EDUCAUSE even has a list of 35 resources on the topic.  In some cases the merger held; in others it reverted to the original state: separate and (relatively) equal.

Recent developments involve a different kind of merger or bundling of services under one roof, usually the library's.  These often started as "information commons" and grew or evolved into a medley of academic support services and became known as "learning commons" or "knowledge commons." The services might include tutoring, writing lab, media lab, academic adivising, first year experience, and lots of space for social studying, group work, collaborative learning.  It's not just a computer lab in the library.

One of the most recent is the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech.  It is a 24/7 facility that includes many of the services listed above.  It is located alongside the university library and has been "integrated" into the library organization, according to Dean of Libraries, Catherine Murray-Rust:
"At the end of fall 2010 semester, Provost Rafael Bras asked me and my colleagues to integrate the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons with the Library. The Library was a logical choice for this important effort, not only because Library faculty and staff have many years of experience managing large academic spaces that service the entire campus, but also because many of the innovations that are featured in Clough Commons were first tested in the Library."  Photos of construction and opening day.

A few more examples of this kind of organizational bundling: Seattle U. Learning CommonsOberlin College's Academic CommonsCal Poly's Library and Academic Center.  

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