Beckie, Stern, Erica and Tim, the Founder’s Endowment, and transforming library learning spaces

At the last librarian’s meeting I was invited to listen to a proposal from Stern Neill and Beckie Etheridge. Basically what they wanted to do was something similar to the work that they had done in CP-105 and that I had used for my collaboration rooms upstairs and in the area near the maps collection downstairs; they wanted to create a “collaboration studio” in the library and call it a “learning cave.”

This learning cave would have several assumptions:

  • flexible spaces
  • comfortable spaces
  • high technology
  • collaborative learning environments
  • and an assessment component that measured student satisfaction and success outcomes

And so Erica and I decided to help them find some spaces and craft a plan to implement something that would work for us as a library, them as staff who want to push the boundaries of learning at UWT, and our students as the target of all this change.

We initially looked at the current collaborative classrooms and though they are good candidates for the project, I decided that I could find a way to get some of the furniture on my own and that those spaces might muddy their project. So, we looked around and at Jennifer’s suggestion took a good look at the maps space directly adjacent to the Reference desk. There was some collaboration already going on in that space and there was a lot of flexibility in that space for multiple configurations. Now, what to do with the maps and the ADA workstation?

Well, if we moved the maps to the space below the stairs and the ADA station was moved to the microfilm collection area (and one microfilm machine was sacrificed) with a few other small tweaks we would have a blank slate.   So, we started planning around the assumption that we could make a blank slate of that space.

To that end, Beckie and Tessa made a line drawing of the measurements for that area and it looks like this:

Learning Cave

What you see there is a rough idea of what we’re looking at doing to that space.  All that furniture would have wheels.  All of that furniture is collapsible. All that furniture is stackable.  And so with few exceptions there would be four rooms that students could reconfigure to accommodate small to large group study efforts.

Like I said, this is very rough right now.  And this would be what we’re calling the “Cadillac plan.”  We will also be proposing two lesser plans, one which will simply be a retrofit of the four rooms we have already started to equip for collaboration.

One of the exciting things about the Cadillac plan is that it includes two rooms that are very similar to the Collaboration Studios currently being used to great success in OUGL.  In other words, two rooms that have large plasma TVs attached to the wall, a small “server” with some software installed on it that allows a whole group of users to connect their laptops to the Plasma screen and share their desktops with each other.

At this point I’m still pricing that software (actually I’m looking at trying to piggy-back a few licenses on Seattle’s bundle to save a bunch of money.)  But we look like we’ll have a plan ready for final approval that we can submit to the Founder’s Endowment committee some time today.

Any feedback at this point would be really cool.  Post thoughts here and I’ll respond to them or just send me an email with your thoughts.

Ok, I look forward to talking more about this.

Cheers!

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2 Comments

Filed under Technology Pulse

2 responses to “Beckie, Stern, Erica and Tim, the Founder’s Endowment, and transforming library learning spaces

  1. cecil

    VERY few patrons use our microfilm and readers. I say move the entire microfilm collection to our “special collection” in the basement. The film could be requested at the circ desk and we would still have room for the readers, although, I don’t think we need as many as we have now. I think Mike Allen is the only professor who requires his students to use the microfilm collection to research Early American newspaper titles, and we always pull the film he wants students to use and we have it available at the circ desk to exchange for collateral. I think we’re giving up some prime real estate for something hardly anyone uses. Most sane people would rather have a root canal than use the microfilm readers. That’s my .02 anyway. – Cecil

  2. Suzanne

    The spaces for the chairs and tables as outlined in the “Cadillac plan” look rather tight to me, and therefore not very comfortable. Also, I am concerned about noise drifting out from these spaces into the rest of the library. Currently, this is not a “quiet” area of the library, but because our building conducts noise with the best of conductors, I would like to see this space as outlined closed off a bit more.

    And, I agree with Cecil that the microfilm and readers could be moved. There are resources that are available ONLY on microfilm, but they do not receive heavy use. We would still need to have at least one microfilm scanner/printer available in an easily accessible space. — Suzanne

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