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Student-Centered Digital Learning at Loyola's Information Commons

Submitted by Michael Stephens on April 19, 2008 - 9:19am

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting and speaking at the new Loyola University Information Commons on the campus of Loyola University just north of Chicago. It was a blustery, rainy cold day along the lake, but the space and the library folk were warm and inviting. Before the visit, I checked out the Web sitLast week, I had the pleasure of visiting and speaking at the new Loyola University Information Commons on the campus of Loyola University just north of Chicago. It was a blustery, rainy cold day along the lake, but the space and the library folk were warm and inviting. Before the visit, I checked out the Web site for the Commons, eager to read about the project. From the Overview and Philosophy page:

The concept of an Information Commons (IC) is part of a national trend which has three objectives:

  • First, focusing on the needs of undergraduates
  • Second, providing a one-stop shopping experience for all types of information needs: library research, technology, and more, and
  • Third, considering how and why we access and use information.

The Information Commons idea is also a response by libraries to the current trends of technology in higher education, globalization as it relates to information, e-learning, and the need for flexible hours by students. In the past decade, librarians have observed that students need and expect to have

  • A. spaces to meet and work together
  • B. access to up-to-date technology
  • C. the ability to communicate easily with friends, family, classmates, etc.

For universities to be competitive for students, these needs must be addressed.

Dean of Libraries Bob Seal took me on a deluxe tour of the facility that sits right on the lake side. The first floor includes computers, seating areas and a help desk staffed by student assistants. The second and third floors offer more computers, group study/collaboration space and are designated as quiet areas. The library and university folk planning this space allowed for louder spaces for collaboration and quieter spaces for studying. There is even a "no technology," quiet reading room designed to look like a traditional library space. Bob was very pointed when he described entering into the project with the planning team. Three things, he said were of utmost importance for the new building. The Information Commons would be a place for:

  • Collaboration
  • Connectivity
  • Community

Macs, PCs, outlets, wireless, and comfortable seating were in abundance.

I was particularly impressed with the media production space, designated as resource for students to create digital content, print in color/large size and have access to circulating equipment. This was the first time I'd ever seen a circulating equipment area. Technologies included digital video cameras, portable hard drives for saving large files and more.

I spoke for an hour to library staff and invited friends from the library community. I had a ball referring to my tour in the context of The Hyperlinked Library and concluded the talk by urging the visitors from outside Loyola to checkout the Commons and the student-centered technologies, spaces and features. Throughout the day, I was constantly reminded of how student-centered the Commons seemed to be. It makes sense: students want a plugged in, digital learning experience. They're consumers in many ways. The Information Commons would certainly impress me as a potential student. I wonder how potential students might react to other less-inviting spaces? What did the Commons philosophy state?

For universities to be competitive for students, these needs must be addressed.


Are you planning a new or renovated space in your academic library? It might be just the ticket to look at the photos, the philosophy and ponder how you might create a technology-equipped space to serve learning needs. Kudos to the planning team, including forward-thinking dean Bob Seal for creating such an innovative space. As I was leaving we hatched plans for Dominican GSLIS field trips to see the Commons in action.

Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsphotos/sets/72157604487385068/


Comments (3)

Interesting that all this

Interesting that all this was done in a physical space. Any lectures and plans for a new or renovated space in a virtual academic library would be undertaken online.

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"I was particularly

"I was particularly impressed with the media production space, designated as resource for students to create digital content, print in color/large size and have access to circulating equipment."

sound nice. Hope i can take a visit that.