SPEC Kit 342: Next-Gen Learning Spaces · 87
We have successfully established a virtual computer lab called Skybox that provides essential software in one convenient
place. Skybox can be accessed at any time, from any computer, anywhere in the world. Making the traditional computer
lab portable enables us to utilize learning spaces in new and more dynamic ways.
We have two main libraries. One of them is primarily an undergraduate learning commons (we call it the Learning
Studio). Our other main library has largely remained a traditional research library—it’s far quieter and has a more
studious environment. In both, though, we’ve opened up group/individual study zones, along with quiet zones.
We were late to the learning commons game, and so benefitted from what others had done. We made a conscious
decision for it not to simply be a big computer lab, and instead concentrated on including lots of open and closed group
study spaces and classrooms that supported peer-to-peer learning and problem-based learning. As we participate
in discussion for what other parts of the campus need in terms of classroom and learning space, we find that we are
already on the cutting edge, and essentially have designed a great next-gen building. We will incorporate some of what
we’ve learned into renovations of our main library building.
While we are focused on growing and developing learning spaces and the variety of learning space options within
the library, we are also using (or making) learning spaces that are not within the library walls. One of our special
collections events involves film screenings at a local restaurant on Friday evenings, and it has a great following! We also
have a “home movie” event that we hold at the local public library. Sometimes, getting outside the library enhances
collaboration and increases the visibility of library holdings and services beyond the immediate user community.
Without our learning spaces, we would be unable to command the kind of gate count we do (it has doubled and
remained steady). We would also be unable to get the attention of academic departments and collaborators as easily.
Having event spaces further assists the library in promoting academic events of interest to all, including the greater
community—but it helps the library to support graduate student activities in particular.
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