Academic Libraries in Transformation to Learning Centers: Information Commons or Learning Commons?
The success of the information commons service model in academic libraries has brought a keen awareness in the academy of the potential for undergraduate learning centers situated in libraries and supported by a set of collaborative services. The information commons, a technical and reference service center, is successful because it meets the needs of the undergraduate learner. The undergraduates have been able to access, acquire and create information using the tools and support that the library has provided. It has not escaped the observation of the academy that the users of the commons are actually learning, both formally and informally. It has also not escaped their observation that more partners would create a better learning environment and thereby better learning outcomes. Undergraduate retention and success are of paramount concern to academic leaders. In response, library leaders are implementing a model of learning support, by refining the information commons model, which brings collaborative partners together in the heart of the university, the library. This model not only fosters the learning of the undergraduate but also enhances the learning support role of all the academic partners. This paper will examine the service models for collaborative learning support in the learning commons by drawing from world-wide examples of information commons, learning commons and learning centers which illustrate the best practices of learning support in an academic library environment. This paper will also discuss some of the issues, problems and possible solutions related to emerging partnerships in undergraduate learning support in academic libraries.
Keywords: Information Commons, Learning Commons, Academic Libraries, Undergraduate Learning, Collaboration
Head, Information Commons, University Library, University of Calgary