Sept. 25, 2007
By Mary Reed | Photos by Rick Fatica
What is the role of an academic library in the 21st century, now that so much information is available outside of its walls? The new Faculty Commons, which opened Monday, offers some answers.
Located on the third floor of Alden Library, the 8,500-square-foot space is open, painted with bright colors and designed -- by way of a large lobby with comfortable chairs as well as glass walls and conference rooms -- to invite interaction among faculty and graduate students.
See for yourself
Faculty Commons will host open house receptions for faculty, teaching associates and instructional staff members from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 3. An open house for students is set for 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2. Refreshments will be served.
Former Dean of University Libraries Julia Zimmerman, who returned to campus to attend Monday's opening reception, described the significance of Faculty Commons in a library context: It's a broadly shared space with multiple uses that invites informal learning through interaction.
Faculty Commons is similar in design to Learning Commons, located on the second floor of Alden. Zimmerman described this shift in the design of library space as a gamble. "That gamble paid off in spades," she said about Learning Commons, pointing out that the library's gate count has increased 40 to 50 percent since the commons opened. She expects the same success for Faculty Commons.
"Faculty Commons is designed to undertake a task of great significance," Provost Kathy Krendl told a crowd of about 50 at the event. "I hope that it is a dynamic center of activity for faculty coming together from different disciplines across campus."
The space, which formerly held stacks (much of that information has been digitized), is now home to the Center for Academic Technology, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for Writing Excellence and Media Production.
Funding for Faculty Commons came from these centers as well as the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, University Libraries and the university's renovation budget. The project came in about $120,000 under its roughly $1.2 million budget.
Here are some views shared by individuals at Monday's grand opening:
"It's just gorgeous. It's got a great feel. I'd like this place to be like Learning Commons, except for faculty."
-- Marjorie DeWert, director of the Center for Academic Technology
"I'm excited. I can't wait to learn more about how I can bring technology into my classes. I see this place getting faculty out of their offices. There's only so much you can do in your office by yourself."
-- Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Mindy Maher
"It's very beautiful. It's nice to be in the library. We should have more exposure to faculty."
-- Mike Roy, Web and multimedia developer for the Center for Academic Technology
"It looks like a great space. I think it will be a great place for the faculty to mingle and talk about what we do in our own classes."
-- Beth Novak, assistant professor in the School of Telecommunications
"I really like it. It's a lot more open. It feels more like home for some people."
-- Kevin Meyer, PACE student employee for the Center for Academic Technology