The 7th Annual Canadian Learning Commons Conference
June 9-11, 2014
Hosted by Bishop's University at the Delta Hotel Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec
Presentation Abstracts & Slides
Keynote & Workshop Speakers:
Jeanne Narum: Presentation Slides (a version with more text content is forthcoming)
Scott Bennett: Presentation Text
Nathalie Soini & Caleigh Minshall: Presentation Slides
Public art partnerships between faculty and the University Learning Commons
Lesley Pease – Syracuse University Library
ULCs can work in partnership with art/design faculty to enrich their teaching and broaden their students’ learning experiences. Faculty can utilize the ULC as a “real life” public art location and incorporate additional facets into their teaching, e.g. how it differs from gallery installations and how to make persuasive proposals to laypeople in positions of authority. Students experience the realities of public art in a more direct way than they normally could within a class. Most dramatic is the exponential difference in the number of viewers and there are many more opportunities for the artist to observe the viewer. Library staff also experience art they might not see otherwise and have new opportunities to interact directly with students and faculty. This session will highlight some ULC experiences in this type of art partnership, sharing best practices and advice for others pondering this type of endeavor.
Bulging at the Seams: Staff Challenges with a Successful Commons
Joseph Fennewald – Pennsylvania State University
What happens when you build it and everyone shows up? Since opening in January 2012 the number of patrons utilizing Penn State's Knowledge Commons has been phenomenal. The resulting demands on staff have forced us to revise our original staffing model (several times). I will describe the lessons we have learned from these revisions. I will also ask participants to speak to how they have addressed their staffing challenges. Despite differences in size and services offered, can we identify commonalities that apply to all 'Commons'? Collectively, we will explore answers to this question.
The Ultimate Flip: Libraries as part of the Learning Commons
Lisa McDaniels – Southern Maine Community College
In most cases, Learning Commons have been carved out of existing library spaces. Campus partners are invited to co-habit but the library typically remains the central administrative unit or “landlord.” At Southern Maine Community College, the library, tutoring services and writing center are equal partners in a blended space. Two years into this implementation, we have faced the challenges and opportunities created by this unusual administrative structure. Is this the wave of the future? What are the implications for library “identity” on campus? What do students think?
Rethinking and Expanding the Instruction Librarian: Redefining the Role of Academic Librarianship in a Media Rich Culture
Emily Thompson & Chris Hebblethwaite – SUNY Oswego
The role of the Academic Librarian is constantly changing. As student assignments evolve beyond the research paper and into multimedia, academic libraries have started to allocate space and resources to help fill this need. At SUNY Oswego’s Penfield Library, we have re-imagined one of our librarian positions into helping faculty who want to incorporate multimedia projects into their classes by teaching their students the basics of audio and video editing. Whether through a traditional one-shot workshop or an individual appointment, this librarian is there to relieve students’ anxiety about unfamiliar tools and to help them turn in a quality assignment. This presentation will focus on why the position was created, how it was marketed, and what it looks like after two and a half years of reality. It will also address how the position has grown to include new technologies (such as 3D printing and scanning), the use of Creative Commons resources, and how it relates to the growing Makerspace movement.
Establishing the Tutorium - Academic Success meets Personal Growth
Sandra Mills – Memorial University
One of the goals of a Learning Commons is to encourage the academic experience with the assistance of technology and social interaction, whilst providing the necessary materials to further one’s educational growth. It is essential for most students to access the majority of their pedagogical needs in one place; when time is of the essence, the ability to “one stop shop” is often seen as a right rather than a commodity. Many Learning Commons have addressed these needs by providing collaborative spaces and opportunities for peer tutoring. At The Commons, Queen Elizabeth II Library at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the tutoring hub, known as “The Tutorium”, is one of these unique spaces that has been steadily growing since it was opened. By partnering with academic departments, as well as developing in-house peer technological tutoring, The Commons has addressed the learning needs of its patrons and providing the resources needed for future success. The question is: Where to from here?
SPARKing Student Success: York’s Virtual Learning Commons
Adam Taves – York University
SPARK (Student Papers and Academic Research Kit: www.yorku.ca/spark) represents a collaborative online pedagogical endeavour between York University Libraries, the Writing Centre, and Learning Skills. It covers a wide range of key academic literacies necessary to students writing an academic paper, including various research, reading, and writing skills. The creation of SPARK emerged from a recognized need to extend services offered in the physical learning commons into an online environment and its content captures the recursive nature of the research and writing process. SPARK’s design, both in terms of how it works and its content, grew out of focus groups with students and faculty, with the aim of helping students move from a state of coping to being motivated towards achievement in their studies. This presentation will outline how SPARK provides an effective learning space to create a continuous series of touch points in a virtual learning commons, and will address the extensive process that has brought the project to fruition.
Peer Roamers in the Learning Commons at the University of Calgary: Bringing service to the students
Susan Beatty – University of Calgary
The Peer Roamer program at the Taylor Family Digital Library was launched in fall 2012 as a collaborative project between the Library and the Student Success Centre at the University of Calgary. Students, both paid and volunteers, are present throughout the six floors of the library providing basic reference, directional assistance, and academic, writing and citation support to their peers. This presentation will provide an overview of the Learning Commons Peer Roamer program. Topics will include benefits of collaboration in selection, training, service promotion, as well as working with student volunteers. Outcomes, lessons learned and plans for the future will also be discussed.
Bishop’s University Teaching and Learning Centre Initiative (TLCI) – Flash Talks
Eva Bures, Corinne Haigh, Jessica Riddell, Mike Teed, Dale Wood
The Bishop’s University Teaching and Learning Centre Initiative (TLCI) is an ad hoc committee with the goal of supporting Bishop's guiding vision to be Canada's foremost undergraduate university by facilitating intellectual and personal growth for members of our diverse learning community. It is a collaborative effort involving the University Librarian, the Dean of the School of Education, faculty from across the five academic divisions, librarians, the VP Academic of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), and a representative from Information and Technology Services (ITS). This session, organized by the TLCI, will showcase innovative projects currently being undertaken by faculty at Bishop’s University related to teaching and learning in higher education. This research will be presented in the form of “flash talks”, short presentations lasting approximately seven minutes, on the following topics: Putting Shakespeare on Trial: From the Courtroom to the Classroom; Professional Boot Camp – Preparing Undergraduate Students for the Workforce; Teaching as an Intellectual Pursuit: Pre-service Teacher Research on Individual Differences in the Classroom; Bringing Science to the Masses - With Beer; and Structuring Online Conversations through HipBone Games to Improve the Quality of Dialogue and Learning. These presentations will be followed by time for a panel discussion with faculty.
Place, presence and possibility: What makes a good library classroom?
Rosarie Coughlan – Concordia University
Concordia University Libraries is currently embarking on a large-scale renovation and expansion project spanning the next 3 years. This renovated library will include 3 new classrooms. In envisioning these new classrooms, a number of focus group consultations were held with faculty and librarians in January 2014.
Both the qualitative data gathered via these focus group consultations as well as the supporting literature suggests that the design, layout and technologies integrated into a space influences the energy and engagement of the both the instructor and the learner experiencing it. Creative physical spaces invite a fresh teacher – learner collaboration that inspires learning and innovation and addresses the needs of all types of students.
Drawing on the findings of this consultation process, this presentation will explore the essential qualities and features of an effective library classroom supporting teaching and learning in the 21st century, including effective consultation strategies to inform the planning, design and supporting pedagogies when creating new teaching spaces; lessons learned and recommendations for best-practice classroom design grounded in current theory and pedagogical practice in this area.
From the Classroom to the University Learning Commons: Principles for Learning Space Design
Adam Finkelstein & Jennie Ferris – McGill University
With the advent of modern classrooms that encourage active learning and collaboration between students and instructors, distinctions between informal and formal spaces have become blurred. As the expectations and purposes of the University Learning Commons (ULC) evolve to best meet the changing needs of various university community members, it is important to examine the commonalities between formal and informal spaces. What lessons can the ULC literature and practice impart for classroom design? What lessons for the design of future ULCs can be drawn from the literature and practice in recently renovated classroom environments? What has been learned about the layouts, technologies, furniture and other affordances that can best foster active and collaborative learning in a range of learning spaces (learning commons to classrooms to teaching laboratories)? In this session, we will summarize evidence-informed practice for the pedagogically sound design of formal spaces to support students’ engagement in their learning. We will offer lessons learned from our experience in redesigning and improving 350+ classroom spaces across our university. This session is an opportunity for all stakeholders in the ULC to discuss and consider implications as we look to the future design and role of the ULC on the university campus.
Articulating a Vision for a Media Commons at the University of Maryland
Andrew Horbal – University of Maryland
In September, 2013 the University of Maryland Libraries charged a Media Commons Task Force with developing a framework for a “Media Commons” environment that integrated the Nonprint Media Services Library into the services offered by the learning commons already in existence and the research commons under development at the Libraries. Over the next six months the committee employed a variety of means to assess the needs of the University of Maryland community and generate ideas, including quantitative surveys of faculty and students, interviews with on-campus groups identified as potential partners, interviews with representatives from successful media commons at other universities, a literature review, and innovative focus group meetings utilizing “design thinking” to elicit ideas and feedback from participants. This presentation will discuss the committee’s findings and recommendations.
Rethink, Evolve, Repeat: Reshaping the Learning Commons Environment at the University of British Columbia Library
Julie Mitchell – University of British Columbia
Only five years after opening the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia, our space underwent extensive renovation which included constructing dedicated, custom-designed spaces for tutoring and peer academic coaching; developing a technology-rich Digital Media Commons space; and launching a single service point which co-located Circulation, Reference and Learning Commons/IT support. This multifaceted project demonstrates the need to continually adapt and evolve Learning Commons space and services to meet the rapidly changing needs of the campus community. The following presentation will address the key financial, technological and philosophical drivers underlying these changes; the approaches for overcoming ongoing challenges encountered with respect to staff training and workplace culture; and the assessment methods employed to evaluate project outcomes and demonstrate impact in a campus environment with increasingly competitive demands around physical space. Emphasizing the process of rethinking and evolving library space and services, the presentation will address strategies for harnessing strengths and addressing weaknesses to cultivate your future commons.
Towards a More Perfect Union: Merging service points at Northeastern’s Snell Library
Elizabeth Chamberlain Habich & Debra Mandel – Northeastern University
Thinking about service points staffed by the Library + Campus Computing and/or other units? Easier said than done! Come hear what it took to make this happen at Northeastern University, including the context, vision, planning process, shaping of the Digital Media Commons and Help & Information Desk models, and building a joint decision-making framework. We will share our challenges and successes, and offer suggestions to help your collaborative staffing project go more smoothly!
Cognitive Dissonance: LibQual Results after a Move to a Commons
Karen Keiller – University of New Brunswick Saint John
Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict from holding two or more incompatible beliefs simultaneously. In 2011 University of New Brunswick Saint John moved all library services from the Ward Chipman Library to the newly constructed Hans W. Klohn Learning Commons, with fifty percent more seating capacity. The beautiful building features a two-story glass front with fretted glass representing pixilating trees. Designed for collaborative learning, it has nine group study rooms, plenty of open space, comfortable seating, a cafe and a collaborative classroom. Services include the writing centre, math and science tutoring and traditional library and technology support services. It is also the campus “library”, with book on shelves, study carrells and a quiet reading room. In the 2013 LibQual study we received a failing grade for “library as space”. Despite the negative score and remarks, the Commons is very popular, with every seat being used most of the day. Cognitive dissonance theory will be used to explain this apparent paradox and we’ll explore how to make the transition to new learning spaces more harmonic.
All Tomorrow’s Programs: New Modes of Librarian Engagement and Student Collaboration at the UW Libraries Research Commons
Lauren Ray & Chloe Horning – University of Washington
The future of the academic library commons depends on our ability to both meet and anticipate user needs. In 2010, the University of Washington Libraries opened the Research Commons, a renovation designed to meet collaborative needs and foster interdisciplinary connections. Our presentation will discuss examples of programs we have tried that get at these concepts, while reflecting our mission of iterative design and change; our Scholars’ Studio series which features interdisciplinary graduate student lightning talks aimed at strengthening research presentation skills, the Collaborating with Strangers program which fosters cross-disciplinary sharing through 3-minute speed meetings facilitated by librarians, and the #MyRCWhiteboard campaign, which leverages social media to help users of the Research Commons communicate their experience and uncover the unique character of the space. We will also discuss the challenges and our lessons learned in managing a commons designed for constant change, as well as new program models that we are currently planning. Our presentation will provide examples of assessments, partnerships and communication strategies that we have found effective in this ever-evolving environment.
Roving Service as Observational Tool: Utilizing the Undergraduates in your Library
Monena Hall & Rashad Assir – Virginia Tech
As Virginia Tech University Libraries transition public spaces to more user-focused, service oriented, collaborative spaces, we found it imperative to determine how students use available space, and to develop methods of garnering feedback from the undergraduate student population, which forms our primary user group. In order to better understand our users we developed the Peer Roving Assistants (Rovers) program. Undergraduate students, reporting to the Learning Commons and Assessment Librarian, conduct space observations at set times and places five days a week, taking photographs, observing how space is used, and conducting interviews with users. Using the Google Drive app for iPad, we developed data gathering tools for observational data, photograph collection, and personal interviews collection through Google Forms. The Rovers program has generated an incredible amount of useful data and photographs. The presentation will share findings about student use of library space and student attitudes towards the library in greater detail, as well as lessons learned in using Undergraduates as research assistants.
Evaluating the Impact of Library Renovation: A Multiple Methods Approach
Elizabeth Chamberlain Habich & Gayane Merguerian - Northeastern University
Converting traditional study space to a bright, modern commons seemed like a good idea, but did it have a positive impact on the effectiveness of library use, study patterns, and student satisfaction or was it just a photo-op success? And could we effectively evaluate it with limited resources, sometimes imperfect data, and more questions than answers? To get a rich, deep understanding of post-renovation use, we completed analyses of entrance card-swipes, an in-depth survey, and used Suma to complete counts and observations of user activities in different parts of the building. Finally, focus groups and interviews planned for the spring and early summer 2014 will round out the picture from an anthropological perspective. We will also discuss how we plan to use what we learned.
Kathryn Boone – Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University opened the Learning Commons @ Perry Library in September 2011. During the planning phase, the University Libraries worked with the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to establish a three-year assessment plan. We continue to work collaboratively with them and additional partners -- Information Technology Services, the English Department Writing Center, The College of Sciences Math and Science Resource Center, and Academic Enhancement’s Peer Educator Program -- to explore and implement opportunities to gather quantitative and qualitative data. Issues we have addressed include: How do we establish and maintain strong collaborative relationships with partners we may only see occasionally? What approaches have been effective in getting the data we need, when we need it? The Office of Assessment has been instrumental in providing us with demographic data (age, gender, ethnicity, academic status and college) giving us a more detailed picture of our users. Now, how can we follow up with these identified users to get their feedback? How does this information guide our future directions? As with any complex, ongoing project, our assessment will continue evolving as all partners gain experience and insight.