"The 90,000 square-foot Library and Learning Center opened its doors in the fall of 2010. It has a capacity for 300,000 volumes. There are 37 study rooms that can be used for group and project work. The Library and Learning Center houses the Academic Enhancement Center, Quiet Reading Room, Heritage Lecture Room and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Additionally, Jazzman's Cafe is located on the main floor and serves light refreshments." http://www.ggc.edu/library/
"The building’s centerpiece is a three-story atrium that houses the Information Commons, an open study area providing a variety of furnishings for individual or group study. The atrium’s curtain wall provides impressive views to and from the central campus. Balconies and windows overlook the expansive atrium area from upper level floors." http://bit.ly/oHt5HK
"GGC's Library is the first academic library in Georgia to achieve LEED Gold certification, and it is one of only seven Gold-certified academic libraries in the U.S."
From the Vision Statement: "The James B. Hunt Jr. Library will be a beautiful and inspiring “signature” building that embodies the essence of Centennial Campus as a community built around knowledge. Located on the academic oval, this iconic building will be a vibrant intellectual and social forum for the campus community, showcasing the latest technologies and research achievements of the university. The timeless aspects of the library’s mission as a gateway to the world’s knowledge will be reflected in the building’s design -- forming a dynamic environment that brings diverse people and disciplines together and enables interaction, innovation, and the creation of new, nontraditional partnerships. In the design of this landmark building, NC State seeks nothing less than to create the best learning and collaborative space in the country." http://bit.ly/oBjMZJ
NC State has posted a wonderfully rich and informative set of documents, photos, videos and testimonials:
Presenters include Grace Chung and Lauren Ray from U of Washington, and Scott Collard and Kara Whatley of NYU.
"The NYU and University of Washington libraries simultaneously created research commons, transforming physical and virtual spaces and integrating content and technology specialists to serve 21st-century researchers. They will describe their redesign values, goals and process, user assessments, and the resulting services and spaces. Lessons learned and future interinstitutional collaborations will be discussed."
Blogger Brian Mathews (The Ubiquitous Librarian) has challenged us to dump the term (and all its variations) in favor of tried and true Library. "Just don’t call it a Commons: building the learning boutique model"http://bit.ly/ne2I8S
He makes a convincing case. Here are some provocative quotes:
"Libraries like to be able to point to a shinny new area and say “hey look, we’re modern—we have a commons!” But I think the emphasis then becomes on the technology and furniture, (and not the activity) which could be relocated to the student center, dorm areas, or an academic building."
"At UCSB we’re not using the term commons, but instead saying that the library is evolving. Our narrative is built around the theme that scholarship has changed and will continue to change and hence we are outfitting the library to address these various needs and academic activities."
"The central question is how do we design an environment that is ideal for the experience we want to encourage? How do we amplify and optimize the use of library space? It’s easy to just buy nice tables and lots of computers, but it’s much more challenging to design a place for experiences."
I agree with everything in those quotes, and with almost everything in the post. And yet...
I think we had to use something like commons to get beyond the iconic cliche of the library as the place where books are stored and librarians sit at the reference desk waiting for someone to ask a question. We had to overcome the resistance of some traditional librarians who objected to standing that concept and image on its head. Architects got it. The IT folks got it. And eventually a critical mass of librarians got it. But it took visionary librarians like Philip Tompkins and Scott Bennett to point the way. Their idea was to bridge the boundaries of print and electronic by creating a new organizing principle, a convergence based on user need, not traditional turf. Commons seemed to signal that coming together of service modes. And it is an evolutionary concept. As Tompkins told us during a consultation for our 1999 renovation: "The library builds the commons, then cedes it to the college. The commons becomes what the community needs."
There are some exciting new takes on the evolution of the library as a learning environment, even, as Brian suggests, moving the commons concept out of the library and into places like the dorms. I've tried to flag some of those on this blog.
It's a great time to be in this business. To use a phrase that Flannery O'Connor borrowed from Teilhard de Chardin, "everything that rises must converge." What better place for that convergence than The Library?
This blog serves as a directory to library websites (224 as of 5/3/13) where you can find models of the innovation that started as the information commons and has evolved into the learrning commons, knowledge commons and many variations.
Scroll down for links to planning documents, conference presentations, online articles and other blogs that might be useful.
I'll also be posting on other matters that point the way to innovations and interesting ideas on how libraries can improve the learning environment.