The Information / Learning Commons and the Public Library


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How public libraries, particularly the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, can incorporate the information/learning commons concept, a traditionally academic concept. Presentation given at a class on public library administration sponsored by BECPL and Long Island University C.W. Post Campus.

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  • University of Iowa Information Arcade in 1992, and Information Commons at the University of Southern California in 1994. 20 year history. At least 80 case studies for academic libraries.
  • I am going to concentrate on the physical commons in this presentation. A great example of a virtual IC is Buffalo State College,
  • Opened January 2009. Main floor. Ability to work alone or in groups. Classroom (Experimental classroom on 2 nd floor) and quiet study. Multimedia.
  • Large computer screen monitors so that several students can comfortable work at the same time. Other case studies listed dual monitors. Dual monitors at the Information/Reference desks would also be a good idea so librarians don’t have to try to turn their computers to show patrons information.
  • Second floor was the quiet study floor. Library had a lot of plugs, some built right into the chairs. Also built in lap desk that swivels. Also moveable, space saver bookshelves that opened and closed when you pressed a button.
  • Many different types of seating and workspaces throughout library.
  • Artwork, lighting, and natural light throughout.
  • Bean bag chairs to read or sleep.
  • Group study rooms. Donation opportunities serve a twofold purpose. Money generator. Also, allows students to meet in the “So and So” room. Some case studies had online room booking capabilities.
  • Coffee outside entrance to library (Also the Daemen Bookstore). There was also a microwave and additional seating between café and the commons, including tables and booths. Also picnic tables in an outdoor area.
  • Found only 1 successful case study of information commons in the public library.
  • This is the perfect time to consider a learning commons at BECPL. We are making changes that are reminiscent of the commons, and we will be doing a space study. This concept would provide a framework to unify these changes. By creating a commons, we can build something that is anything but.
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