The Reilly Learning Commons
This guest post was written by Sheli McHugh.
The University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library held a Ribbon Cutting ceremony this week to officially open its Reilly Learning Commons. Space on the first floor of the library was renovated over the summer to include new group study rooms, collaboration spaces, and high-end technology. The renovation was entirely completed with donations raised through an initiative led by Dean Charles Kratz for the Weinberg Memorial Library’s Twentieth Anniversary. The main donations came from the Reilly family. Joseph Reilly worked at the University of Scranton for many years in the maintenance department and two of his sisters, Evelyn and Katherine, were both early female graduates of the school.
A Learning Commons committee assembled and consisted of library staff, teaching faculty, CTLE staff, IT Services, and campus facilities. The committee began with researching other libraries’ learning commons and trends in services. The committee took field trips to Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, and St. Joseph’s University to tour their libraries. Focus groups were conducted with faculty to learn about services and technology they would like to see in the library for their students to complete projects in their courses.
The committee created a plan from their research for what they wanted in the Reilly Learning Commons and presented this vision to the architects from Hemler & Camayd. The architects, campus facilities, and IT services worked to bring this vision to life over the course of one year. In spring 2014, the committee finalized a floor plan, ordered technology, and green lighted construction.
The Reilly Learning Commons has 8 group study rooms. Two are dedicated to the Writing Center, which provides help to students in the evening. They will be holding both appointments and drop-in hours. When tutoring is not scheduled, the rooms will be available for students to reserve.
There are 5 group study rooms around the perimeter. They each have large monitors with HDMI connections for students to view their laptops as a group. The group study rooms are reservable through SpringShare’s LibCal software. We are encouraging students to always reserve a room. In each of the rooms, the blue walls are writeable. Some have chalk and some have dry-erase markers.
We also have a room dedicated to lecture capture. Students are able to record presentations using Panopto software and save them online. They can view themselves back for critique or send copies to their professors.
There are four booth seating, or collaboration areas with large monitors and HDMI cables. Four students can have their devices plugged in at a time and switch between them by pushing the play button on each chord. We are circulating additional adapters for other devices in case they don’t have HDMI ports on their devices. These seating areas also have two stools and a high counter for additional students to work together.
In addition to the group study rooms and the collaborative booth areas, we’ve also added 6 new high end PCs and 6 new iMacs. They each have dual monitors and have brand new software including Adobe creative suite, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and more. Students can work in pairs or small groups at these stations. We also have our 19 older lab PCs and open stations for students to bring their own device. We have also added a Tech Support office that is staffed by student workers daily to help with technology in the space.
We see our new Learning Commons as the first step toward our long term plans for the Weinberg Memorial Library. We hope that feedback and use of the space will drive change upward to the other floors of the building. We are very excited to see how students use the new space and the technology we are providing. For more information about this initiative, contact Sheli McHugh, Learning Commons Coordinator.