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In a Portal announcement on November 30, The President’s Office announced that the Cardinal Cushing Library would become a Library Learning Commons and Karen Storin Linitz would be the Associate Dean of Library and Learning Resources in charge of the Learning Commons.
“When the news was announced that Karen would become the head of the library I thought – wow this could be really great,” said Administrative Assistant and Coordinator of Library Student Workers Maryellen Page. “Only librarians really understand libraries – lawyers understand the precision of language and the head of an Emmanuel Department understands the politics of the college. What more could you ask for?
The new Library Learning Commons will combine the current library resources, including the Academic Resource Center (ARC), with Information Technology (IT) and Academic Technology and Innovation Group (ATIG).
“A Library Learning Commons is a place where students can access a whole range of services pretty seamlessly and they are services all around academic support so whether it’s writing help, research help, technical help with your computer, and so on, all of those services are readily available in one easy to access place,” said Storin Linitz.
Library Learning Commons have been a trend in the past 15 or so years, according to Storin Linitz. Schools such as Roger Williams, Stonehill, Providence College, Regis, and Hampshire Colllege, who recently received a grant to build a new Library Learning Commons.
“I think there’s been this convergence between IT and libraries so we’re interested in providing these support services to the same groups, primarily students and faculty, and so the idea of delivering those services in a common place made a lot of sense too,” Storin Linitz said. “We think also there’s potential for grant money to help us fund some of the innovative things we’re doing.”
In order to accommodate the new departments moving to the library, the Reading Room will be reconfigured. Books will be removed from the collection in order to make more space, the ARC will move out of the basement, and the front desk will be changed to make room for the addition of the ARC, IT, and Reference Librarians.
“There’s a lot of services that both IT and Library Staff do that are similar and I think it just brings some efficiencies in there. So the idea to me is that if IT is actually housed over in the library and there’s a single service desk, it’s one stop shopping. It’s almost like academic convenience,” said Sean Philpott, Associate Vice President/CIO of IT.
Elkus Manfredi, the architect currently working on the new Julie Hall, is currently providing development options for the renovation. No structural additions will be made to the library yet, but in accordance with the Master Plan those changes will come down the road.
There is also talk of adding a cafe to the library that would be open longer than the Muddy and provide coffee to students using the facilities.
Storin Linitz notes that students will not loose any study space after the remodeling and preliminary thoughts indicate that there may even be more study space available to students.
Storin Linitz also notes that student input is important in this process.
“I want them to know that their input matters a lot. We don’t have, we have this sort of overall vision but we don’t have any of the details laid out yet so this is the time to really share their views,” she said.
A Library Advisory Committee is being formed in light of the change. Dean of Arts and Sciences William Leonard will head this committee.
“We’re going to put together an Advisor Board, lots of libraries have these, made up of students, faculty, and staff who will meet periodically to provide feedback and hear from the library staff, the director,” said Leonard. “So it’s a way to advise the library, to share information, and to really just create a better system and a better resource for students, faculty, and staff.”
For students interested in learning more about the switch over to a Library Learning Commons, an open forum will be held on Wednesday, December 14 from 11a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Library Lecture Hall.
Students who cannot make the meeting are advised to voice their opinions, comments, and concerns in an online survey to ensure that all groups are heard in this transition. Students can also contact Storin Linitz directly via email.
“I was at Wentworth today and was amazed by how vibrant their library is! It’s what I imagine will happen at Emmanuel. They went through a similar project, turning the space into a learning commons. Community input helped create a fantastic space that meets so many student, faculty and librarian needs. I encourage people to get excited and think big. I know I am. I’ve already got my eyes on creating a collection of books that reflects current user needs and shouts learning and energy,” said Anne Hancock, Collection Development Librarian.