The Randall Library at the University of North Carolina Wilmington is taking an innovative approach to being a valuable resource for students in the digital age. They recently introduced their “Learning commons“, a designated area in the library that encourages technology-based research and takes the “shhh” out of the traditional library setting.
When walking through the main entrance, it’s easy to identify the learning commons. The area is freshly painted with bright colors and modern cubicles that feature desktop or laptop stations. The room also has a help desk that is staffed 65 hours per week by reference librarians and staff who work in technical assistance.
Students are encouraged to come in groups, plug in their computers, iPods, or other tech devices, and learn about technology. While the entire 2nd floor of the Randall library is reserved for peace and quiet, study groups in the learning commons can talk freely without fear of a staff member shushing them. Students also like the space that the room provides so they can still have their privacy.
Before the makeover, the space was outdated but the new learning commons now boast more than 300 power outlets and 91 computers catering to the digital age that some libraries are having a tough time adjusting to. Students can also check out 50 PC laptops and 14 Mac laptops.
It is no coincidence that students are giving good feedback about the learning commons. The project began as a series of surveys asking students what they wanted and needed out of a library studying area. Listening has been the true key to success. The concept is ongoing too. Collaborating with the students will not stop as the feedback from the students will help evolve the learning commons in the future. The area is designed to change with technology and student’s needs.