Learning Curve for a Learning Commons

I have been swamped at work. This weekend I will be doing, yet more work. *martyr voice* Somebody, seriously, kill me now.

My library is beginning to plan a Learning Commons. We already have a lot of computers, but we want to add the media, IT, and teaching services that are frequently under the umbrella of “Learning or Information Commons.” I am on the policies task force and thus will be writing up the group’s discussion into something resembling formal policies tomorrow (in my jammies with coffee if possible).

It has been an interesting conversation. What kind of software will we support? What can people do on the computers? What equipment will we check out? What kind (and to what extent) of IT support will we offer? Who gets to use what? Most importantly, what the heck is a Learning Commons anyway?

There are other groups that are dealing with things like staffing and space. I will be interested to see how all of the groups come together with their disparate parts. I have been immersing myself in literature and web sites to see what others have tried. Some things have succeed, some fail and need adjustment.

I think the important thing will be to build something that can be flexible. We can not build a Learning Commons with 2006 technology and services in mind or it will not be useful in two years, maybe even one. We will have to envision a Learning Commons that is nimble, like the organization we are trying to build, which can adapt to new technology and new uses of its space.

I think one key to this will be creating a space that is not locked down. A space that is open to the inclusion of new technologies and services. We should think of technologies as services rather than technologies. Things we are offering users are services regardless of the physical or virtual forms they take. A book, research help, instruction sessions, and a multimedia editing room are all services.

It is a challenge I can not wait to see in the making.

–Jane, do you know your part in all this?