Friday, May 4, 2007

Learning Commons Roundtable

A group of approximately 12 people gathered to discuss the merits of Learning Commons. Some people expressed not truly understanding the notion of what a Learning Commons is. It appeared that many folks were here to get information as they are planning for their inevitable Learning Commons. Emily Alling was able to help us understand the Learning Commons concept by describing the LC at the University of Massachusetts. She described a dynamic place where students can collaborate and have access to several library and campus services all in one place as well as technology tools. Furniture is flexible and the environment is noisy and vital.

Defining the Learning Commons isn't easy.

Emily's definition paraphrased (not a quote): A library plus; a collaboration with other outside services...bringing all these services into one place, convenient, good tech support, meeting most needs in one place, technological, informational...

Some people felt that public libraries are ahead of academic libraries when it comes to user services. I'm not sure how true this is but it was interesting to hear how academic and public libraries could learn a lot from each other. Being a supervisor of the Learning Commons and Technical Support Desk at UMass, Amherst, I do see user services becoming a priority. The Learning Commons is about meeting user needs and quality service is of the utmost importance.

This roundtable discussion about Learning Commons was interesting as we had people from various libraries, all interested in Learning Commons and all with ideas about how they impact our users.