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This afternoon 18+ folks gathered in LIB204 for a webcast from ACRL on Information Commons. The sections was led by Joan Lippencott. Here are the notes from the session – it will be available online from ACRL and I will post the link here when available.

She began by discussing the concepts of Information Commons and Learning Common.

  • Not just computer labs – need to incorporate the role of content and levels of service that computer labs don’t.
  • Many also make room for other campus services (writing center and Teaching and Learning Center)
  • Info Commons emphasize areas for groups, collaborations, food, art, etc. as opposed to quiet individual study
  • Need to provide an environment that engage learners
  • Most are in libraries, but some are in academic buildings or student centers

Vision and Goals

  • Who will conceptualize the vision and goals for your commons? Who other than library staff need to be involved? Encourages direct representation on committees by students.
  • How does your library serve the community?
  • Link your goals to the goals of the University as a whole.

For What Purpose

  • Convenience
  • Increase ability of students to work in groups
  • Make more technology available
  • Provide services efficiently and effectively
  • Provide new services
  • Promote a sense of community
  • Enhance learning — should be your primary focus

Linking the Info Commons to Learning

  • Deeper Learning
    • Social
    • Active
    • Contextual
    • Engaging
    • Student-Owned

Physical Space Slides showing examples of spaces from Info Commons

Collaborations and Partnership

Issue is do they become partners or just tenants? Not much leveraging of the physical proximity.

  • Co-location – adjacenct service points and opportunities for informal crossover staff contact
  • Cooperation
  • Collaboration – developing shared mission and goals, joint planning, pool expertise to develop new services, each contributes resources.
  • Dartmouth Center for Research, Writing and IT.
  • GA Tech Information Commons

Staffing Issues:

  • What will be the key uses of your commons?
  • What types of services do you anticipate?
  • Who will be your partner organizations?
  • Will services with other units be co-located?
  • What mix of professional, support, student staffing will be needed?
  • What kind of training is needed and who will provide it?


  • Gate counts
  • counts of use of workstations
  • use surveys
  • question counts
  • satisfaction surveys
  • quality perception surveys
  • Frame assessments in the context of your institutiton’s learning priorities
  • Partner with assessment experts on your campus
  • Communicate to staff what type of information would be valuable to administrators and funders
  • Assemble stakeholders to shape the assesment effort
  • consider both quantitative and qualitative measures

5 Ideas You Can Do Now

  • Form group spaces in open areas
  • Add inexpensive equipment to promote student collaborative learning
  • Improve promotion of content and services through signage and displays
  • Begin pertnerships and joint training with other units
  • Do needs assessments

Planning Issues

  • Develop a vision related to learning
  • Develop goals
  • Determine partners
  • define and gain resources
  • determine location
  • define what you want users to be able to do
  • define services
  • determine staff needs
  • Later you can work on the specifics