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Visions for the future of the RWU Library

By Barbara Kenney, Instructional Services and Campus Initiatives Librarian

In late October, library staff gathered to reflect on issues of space, technology, student support, and collaboration in the newly configured Library Learning Commons. With multiple services and service points throughout the building, we considered better signage to indicate where various services are located, and the possible addition of amenities such as coffee and food service, along with seasonal activities to help de-stress from the inevitable exam pressures. We were encouraged to “think big” following the lead of our University’s Vision Project, and to imagine the ideal library, both for our patrons and for our staff. Collaboratively, we developed vision statements as a first-step in creating a plan to continue building a Library Learning Commons that supports the academic and social needs of all our users in innovative and exciting new ways.

Some of the ideas generated were:

  • To create more collaborative workspaces
  • To become the academic and social center for the campus
  • To have more flexible furniture to accommodate different activities
  • To include students in the decision-making process for library enhancements
  • To eliminate all physical barriers to access

The Library Learning Commons is by definition a collaborative space. It houses IT Services, Instructional Design, Student Accessibility Services, the Center for Academic Development, and Library Services. The recently redesigned Mary Tefft White Cultural Center is now a flexible learning space with technology that allows for stronger collaborations among student teams and workgroups, while still facilitating lectures and academic programs. With all this, we still envision more…like a “maker space” with 3-D printers and technological help that supports creativity and innovation.

The idea of the library being a transformative space was woven throughout our envisioning process. We’re creating spaces that inspire and support invention, collaboration and hands-on learning, with programming that motivates our campus constituents to be engaged learners at every stage of their development.