A Commons By Any Other Name …

Earlier this week on the ACRLog, StevenB posted a question about the difference between the Information Commons and the Learning Commons. He says he used to understand the difference, which he describes below. But now he is not so sure. My understanding of the difference is exactly as he describes below, so I’m not sure what the confusion is all about? Maybe, he is really questioning the perceived value of the Learning Commons?

Steven, do you think their is no value in the added academic support services that a Learning Commons implies?

Others who have implemented a true Learning Commons in your library, do you find students take advantage of the added services? Is there more serendipity? Do students come in for tutoring and stay to work on a computer? Or do students working on a project stumble on to the writing center? These are the sorts of consequences I would expect as a result of co-locating services near each other.

If this is not the outcome, I’d like to know because we are currently planning for our new library complete with both Information Commons and Learning Commons. Or maybe it’s an Information Commons and Learning Center? Of course it’s all the Library!

Seekin’ An Answer ‘Bout The Commons
“The learning commons on the other hand had grander visions. The big difference is in “co-located services”. The learning happens at the learning commons because multiple academic support services are located there; tutoring, the writing center, educational technology and others are invited to share space in the learning commons or they have scheduled hours there.”

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One Response

  1. I think there can be great value in a well-done commons area – whether you call it a learning commons or information commons. If it has the right equipment, people and atmosphere, learning is likely to happen. I guess I feel the same way about “learning commons” that I do about “information literacy”. Many libraries say they do “information literacy instruction” but the bottom line is that all they do is traditional BI – because they have no learning outcomes, no IL objectives, no faculty collaboration, no documented plan and no assement methods – just a name – and I guess they can use it to fool administrators. I likewise believe there are librarians that say they have a “learning commons” but it’s really nothing more than a glorified computer lab where there’s no added value to facilitate learning. Guess you can fool some folks with this too – and maybe even get some funding for it.

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