About the Learning Commons
Questions, comments can be directed to Randall Library: libref [at] uncw [dot] edu or (910) 962-3760.
About the Learning Commons
The UNCW Learning Commons is a collaborative effort between ITSD, Academic Affairs and Randall Library. On this page, you will find definitions of the phrase "Learning Commons," reasons for constructing a Learning Commons at UNCW, our mission statement, and a bibliography of relevant readings. Visit the photo gallery of construction photos.
What is a Learning Commons?
According to Donald Beagle's The Information Commons Handbook (2006), the phrase "Information Commons" is "...an umbrella concept describing the physical, virtual, and cultural environment for new learning communities of students, teachers, scholars, and researchers ... It is not about technology per se, but how an organization reshapes itself around people using technology in pursuit of learning" (xv).
Beagle adds, "...the phrase 'Information Commons' (IC) is used to denote a new type of physical facility or section of a library specifically designed to organize workspace and service delivery around an integrated digital environment and the technology that supports it. As such, the physical commons is designed to incorporate a cluster of access points to this digital arena, along with tools and trained staff to help users navigate its environment, query its resources, process and interpret its content, create their own knowledge, and package, publish, or present their creations. It also provides the framework for services based on artifacts, printed books, and tangible publication containers ... As these spaces have evolved, some institutions have begun applying variant terms to describe more targeted second-generation academic library ICs, such as Learning Commons, Research Commons, and Collaboration Center" (3).
Why are we doing this?
There are several reasons for this construction. During a recent survey, you - UNCW students, faculty and staff - told the library that you wanted:
- "...a library that is inviting and clean and modern."
- "...a space on campus that I could work and study and feel comfortable in."
- "...upgraded chairs and tables ... [and] more outlets for laptops..."
- "...a building [that is] more aesthetically pleasing on the inside [which] would be more conducive to studying."
One reason we are constructing the Learning Commons is in response to these remarks and other similar comments received during the survey. We hope that this will be a step towards making the space better for you, our users.
UNCW's Learning Commons Mission Statement:
The Learning Commons fosters a collaborative approach to learning by integrating informational materials, technological resources and support services into a comfortable and accessible space in order to provide students, faculty and staff with an environment for instruction, interaction and inspiration.
Selected Readings on the Learning Commons:
- Bailey, Russell, and Barbara Tierney. "Information Commons Redux: Concept, Evolution, and Transcending the Tragedy of the Commons." Journal of Academic Librarianship 28.5 (2002): 277-286.
- Bailey, D. Russell, and Barbara Gunter Tierney. Transforming Library Service Through Information Commons: Case Studies for the Digital Age. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.
- Beagle, Donald “Conceptualizing an Information Commons.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 25.2 (1999): 82-89.
- Beagle, Donald Robert, ed. The Information Commons Handbook. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006.
- Bennett, Scott. "The Information or the Learning Commons: Which Will We Have?" Journal of Academic Librarianship 34.3 (2008): 183-185.
- Cowgill, Allison, Joan Beam, and Lindsey Wess "Implementing an Information Commons in a University Library." Journal of Academic Librarianship 27.6 (2001): 432-439.
- Dewey, Barbara I. "Circle of Service: A Collaborative Information Commons Planning Model." Learning Commons: Evolution and Collaborative Essentials. Ed. Barbara Schader. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2008. 37-67.
- Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth B., Anne C. Moore, and Beth W. Lang "Reference Librarians at the Reference Desk in a Learning Commons: A Mixed Methods Evaluation." Journal of Academic Librarianship 34.3 (2008): 231-238.
- Forrest, Charles, and Martin Halbert. Eds. A Field Guide to the Information Commons. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009.
- Franks, Jeffrey A., and Michael P. Tosko "Reference Librarians Speak for Users: A Learning Commons Concept That Meets the Needs of a Diverse Student Body." Reference Librarian 47.1 (2007): 105-118.
- Lippincott, Joan K. "Linking the Learning Commons to Learning." Learning Spaces. Ed. Diane G. Oblinger. Educause, 2006. 7.1-7.18. Available electronically at <http://www.educause.edu/learningspaces>.
- MacWhinnie, Laurie A. "The Information Commons: The Academic Library of the Future." Portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.2 (2003): 241-257.
- Malenfant, Chuck. "The Information Commons as a Collaborative Workspace." Reference Services Review 34.2 (2006): 279-286.
- McKinstry, Jill. "Beyond Facebook: Thinking of the Learning Commons as a Social Network." Learning Commons: Evolution and Collaborative Essentials. Ed. Barbara Schader. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2008. 405-427.
- Schmidt, Nancy, and Janet Kaufman "Learning Commons: Bridging the Academic and Student Affairs Divide to Enhance Learning Across Campus." Research Strategies 20 (2007): 242-256.
- Somerville, Mary M., and Sallie Harlan. “From Information Commons to Learning Commons and Learning Spaces: An Evolutionary Context.” Learning Commons: Evolution and Collaborative Essentials. Ed. Barbara Schader. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2008. 1-35.
- Sult, Leslie, and Mary Evangeliste "We Are All Librarians: Training in the Ever Evolving Information Commons." Reference Librarian 50.3 (2009): 248-258.