Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An Acadmic Commons: Library, Meeting Space, Lounge, Gallery, Coffee Shop, Student Services Center, Faculty Development Center, or Digital Repository

So what's happening in your college library these days? My former campus, Salisbury University (MD), is in the early stages of building a learning commons. What is a learning commons? Well, it seems that a learning commons is a mix of teaching and meeting spaces, student services centers, computer labs, lounges, theaters, maybe the IT Helpdesk, video edit bays, paper resources (previously called books and newspapers, coffee shops with lite fare, and soft seating. These academic playgrounds are an amazing new addition to colleges that are lucky enough to have waited until now to build such a place. Those who built and ordinary library in the last 10 years really missed the boat. Imagine a library (sort of) that looks like a shopping mall, but has the contents of the college center, IT labs, auditoriums, bookstores, and has a few student and faculty services thrown in. All of this under a cloud of Wi-Fi. If you classes are online, hybrid or blended, you may have to rarely leave this amazing new place. Here are a few examples:

The Anderson Learning Commons at the University of Denver includes:

154,223-square-foot building
98,000 online journals
39,500 linear feet of library collections onsite
4,000+ pieces of furniture refurbished and reused from Penrose Library
1,864 chairs each with access to power outlets
1,000 databases
200-seat event space
135 computers (Macs & PCs) for patron use
75-seat café, 50 seats on the porch
32 group study rooms, six seminar rooms and dozens of group booths
2 fireplaces

I don't see a running track or showers, but they must be in there. Special thanks to Campus Technology the magazine for this lead.

The University of South Dakota learning Commons looks to be more of a mega services center - with coffee.

Academic & Career Planning Center
•Seek academic advising
•Explore majors & careers
•Understand graduation requirements
•Excel at job interviews
•Discover internship opportunities
•Succeed through First-Year Experience

Academic Support
•Writing Center
•Presentation Center
•Math Emporium
•Student-Athlete Success Center
•Lab Consultants
•Supplemental Instruction
•Learning Specialists

Center for Academic and Global Engagement
•Learn through service-learning
•Study abroad
•Conduct undergraduate research
•Explore National Student Exchange
•Compete for a national scholarship
•Help for International Students

ITS Help Desk & Equipment Checkout
•Receive personal computer support
•Request technology assistance
•Checkout computer & media equipment

University Libraries
•Get research help in person and online
•Research 24/7 in 250+ databases
•Find scholarly research sources
•Check out books & media
•Access local & regional historical materials

I started by mentioning the Salisbury University Learning Commons. This is very early in the construction phase, but will included:

2 stories in the Internet café
12 classrooms
18 group study rooms
24/7 = hours of the café study room
40+ seats in board/meeting room
48 bells in carillon
62 feet = height of the central atrium
115 laptop computers in the building
290 desktop computers in the building
290+ large monitors for classrooms and study areas
350 area jobs supported
418 seats in the Assembly Hall
1,020 square feet for the IT Help Desk
1,650 square feet in the Math Emporium
3,940 square feet in the Writing Center
4,287 square feet for Instructional Design and Delivery
9,841 square feet in the Center for Student Achievement
25,610 square feet in the Nabb Research Center and archives
224,071 square feet overall

These are some amazing spaces. For those who have been thinking that the traditional college campus was going to vanish and that all 19 year olds would be earning their degrees online - forget about it. Who would not want to come and spend your day at any of these places. What about the cost you say? You gotta play to win. These schools are betting that if you build it, they will come. I think they are right (at least for many 19 year olds).