Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rethinking Learning Spaces

This podcast with Robert Fox, Associate Director for Public and Administrative Services at Georgia Tech, describes some of the methods used there to improve student spaces. From strategies for seeking user input to selecting flexible design components, this is an interesting sixteen minute talk on changing learning spaces.

I was fortunate to visit Georgia Tech's commons last month, one of our inspirations for the Hub.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New UWM Commons

The new Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is set to open August 24. This article provides a overview of the project as well as lots of photos and a floor plan. I like the glass walled study rooms and the restaurant-style booths. More photos are on flickr. Nice work!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Next Commons

I am delighted to be chairing the Research Commons Working Group on my campus which will begin our work this fall. For some time we've been talking about how we might bring some new services to our main reference floor as well as rearrange the space to better meet faculty and graduate student needs. Over a year and a half ago, I collected some examples of faculty/scholarly/research commons projects. I am curious if more have been developed since that time and will be querying infocommons and Frye colleagues soon.

If any of you are involved in a faculty/scholarly/research commons, please share in the comments or contact me. I'd really like to talk with you about your experience. Thanks!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Computer Lab of the Future

Admittedly this post was largely intended to test my new twitterfeed setup.

I thought I'd also use the opportunity to mention a post about my visit last month to the Cox Computing Center at Emory University. This is a very cool space, and I think my commons friends might be interested in taking a look. Read more at the Translational Technologies blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Learning Hubs

I wish I'd trademarked the name of the Hub :-) Dalhousie University is considering four Learning Hubs as part of their master plan. Similar to their Learning Commons, these Learning Hubs are spaces that would:
provide comfort, a choice of study space for groups or individuals, food service and access to information.
It's an interesting idea to move the concept of the commons beyond the traditional library space. We've been experimenting with that here with our "Hublets," as some of our computer labs are now affectionately called.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Truly Uncommon Commons at Loyola

"Wow, wow, wow" was all I could say when I stepped inside the Klarchek Information Commons at Loyola University Chicago. I felt like I was in an infinity pool--the floor seemed to disappear into the shockingly blue, wide expanse of lake. The entire back wall which faces the lake is glass, and I had a hard time looking at anything but the lake, even though the commons amenities are quite impressive.

One of my Frye colleagues who works there showed us pictures during one of our morning "sharing sessions" at the institute last month. I was so impressed, I knew I had to visit the next time I was in Chicago. I'm glad I did.

The four floor facility features 220 computer workstations (20% Mac) with good wireless coverage throughout the space. Library and IT help are available at the service desks throughout the commons. Other services include a digital media lab and laptop support for students. The space includes six classrooms and a cafe as well.

In general, the commons is largely devoted to services, study, and collaboration; to access the library's physical collection, visitors must use the walkway connecting the older library building with the new information commons. Interestingly the third floor of the commons is truly a quiet reading room with a "no technology zone" policy enforced; only print materials are allowed there. It seems there is something for everyone here, and indeed, the staff report that the commons is incredibly busy, especially at night.

Back to the amazing building itself--can I say enough about that view? You may be wondering about all of that glass, particularly what it's like to be right on the lake, say in January. So was I. The building is actually silver LEED certified and includes an impressive array of environmental features. You may also be wondering about what the view is like opposite the lake. It's a nice picture of campus, and the fourth floor even includes a "green roof" which contains Illinois native plants and wildflowers. How cool is that.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit, and I encourage you to check it out next time you are in Chicago. In the meantime, here are more pictures from Michael Stephens.

ALA Roundup

I have not attended the ALA conference in at least five years as I have gotten so involved in SLA. This year's ALA was practically like a vacation for me--no meeting obligations, so I could attend sessions and visit the exhibits as much as I wished. It was pretty nice, though I found myself missing friends from SLA.

Anyway, here are images of the poster session Alice and I presented about our Hubbub party in the library and our Swap and Shop PR award for the Hub video.

The chief mastermind behind our Swap and Shop PR award-winning video, Kirk Laird, asked me if I'd be bringing home a 6 ft tall trophy for the award. Unfortunately the trophy was 3 ft tall at most--it's pictured here with a librarian. Seriously, it does take terrific partnerships like those we have with TASC in order to make such creative endeavors possible.

Good conference, maybe it won't take me five years to attend again!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Poster Session at ALA

ALA poster session attendees, thanks for stopping by to talk with Alice and me. I wrote a series of posts about our welcome party in the library (the Hubbub) during freshman orientation week:

Hubbub 2008

Hubbub 2007

I'm writing this from my phone so hopefully it looks okay. More later.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Who's Reading?

After writing this blog for over two years, I do wonder who's reading. I look at my stats of course, and get the occasional comment, but it's still interesting to ponder who's out there. Today I was notified that this blog was selected as one of the best 100 blogs for school librarians, so I guess someone out there must find my posts helpful.

I mentioned before that I'll be attending the ALA Annual Conference this weekend. Any readers in the area, please stop by the poster sessions on Sunday and say hi!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Article on the Hubbub

My former colleague in the Hub, Alice Wasielewski, has just written an article about our experiences from Hubbub 2007 and Hubbub 2008, our party in the library during freshman orientation week.

The article has just been published in the July/August 2009 issue of College and Research Libraries News. Way to go, Alice!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Atlanta Learning Spaces Tour

Last month when I was in Atlanta for the Frye Leadership Institute, I had the opportunity to visit libraries and labs at both Emory University and Georgia Tech. The Cox Computing Center at Emory was so impressive, I already wrote about it and posted a few images over on the Translational Technologies blog. I really wanted to see the renovated Guy Chemistry Library at Emory as well, but our tour group asked so many questions at Cox that we never made it over there. Check out these photos of the Chemistry Library from one of my Frye colleagues.

Georgia Tech's commons had been one of our models for developing the Hub, so it was truly delightful to visit the space in person. Even though much of the west commons was closed for renovation, it was well worth the visit to see the rest of the space.

I had heard about the power strips hanging from the ceiling and the low lighting, but until I visited in person, I did not realize how useful this is, and how much it adds to the atmosphere at the same time. I learned that some of these panels require staff intervention to move, but it doesn't seem to inconvenience students too much when they need to rearrange the space to best meet their needs.

Admittedly I am not the best photographer (that's partly why most of the photos on this blog are from Alice), so you should check out these Georgia Tech photos from some of my Frye colleagues.

Library Help, IT Help

I got into an interesting discussion with a colleague recently about those signs we often see in commons environments: library help arrow this way, IT help arrow that way, even though both staff are sitting side-by-side at the same desk. You might as well draw a line down the floor. I could have used a photo to illustrate, but I didn't want to pick on anyone in particular.

Now tell me, why do we do this? Why do we make our user make a choice? Library patron: "Let's see, I'm having trouble using a library database but that might be because I've been having problems with my laptop. So do I go to the IT side or the library side? Gee, I sure don't want to look stupid so maybe I shouldn't go up to the desk at all."

Is it really that hard for us to hand off a question? I like to think we've got the art of handing off questions nailed in the Hub. Friendly staff member: "Oh sure, sounds like it might be an issue with your account. I bet Stacey here can help you with that when she's finished with a chat. So what do you think of our new coach?"

I have been opposed to those signs for quite some time. Admittedly, we did have one for a short time, but I quietly removed it. Both our IT and library staff sit under a giant Help sign with no differentiation. We should diagnose the problem and get our user to the expert, rather than make our user second-guess themselves. Let's make getting help as easy as possible for our users, not for us.

Photo by Alice Wasielewski

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Articles about the Commons

Special thanks to Russ Bailey for pointing out these recent articles on the commons:

“Piloting an information commons at HKUST Library,” Reference Services Review (37/2, 2009) pp. 178—189, by Gabrielle K.W. Wong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library, Hong Kong, China.

“The Information and Learning Commons: a selective Guide to sources,” Reference Services Review (37/2, 2009) pp. 190—206, by Tim Held, California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, California, USA.

Instruction and ‘The Commons’,” Educator’s Spotlight Digest (4/1, Spring/Summer, 2009), by Abby Kasowitz-Scheer, Syracuse University Library, USA.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hubbin' at ALA

Not only will the Hub be featured in a poster session at ALA, we are also being honored with an ALA/LLAMA Best of Show award at the annual public relations materials "Swap and Shop." If you are in the ALA Exhibit Hall on Sunday, the awards will be presented 12:30-1:30 pm in the special events area.

This 30 second video, which is sort of a commercial for the Hub, was made possible by the generous contribution of time and talent from Patsy Carruthers and Kirk Laird in our campus Teaching and Academic Support Center. They are terrific folks to work with and now award winners to boot! I'm hoping to bring home a big trophy for Kirk, but at the very least, I can offer my thanks for a project well done.