Now Serving … A Learning Commons for the Next Generation

From Kennedy Library's 2008 Annual Publication (23MB PDF).

"Wow!" A student stands looking across the sunny expanse of the renovated second floor of The Kennedy Library in September 2008. Along windows looking out at golden hills and fall trees, students are gathered on comfortable, pale-green banquettes, interspersed with big tables where they've spread out their wireless laptops, problem sets, and books. Some are conversing quietly or helping each other with homework. Nearby, groups of students can be seen working together in spacious glass-enclosed study rooms, each equipped with movable chairs, tables, whiteboards and flat screen monitors. A dozen students are enjoying café-style seating in a light-filled room looking out towards Poly Canyon Village; faculty and students are meeting over coffee and pastries near the display of today's newspapers.

What this student is witnessing is the transformation of the Kennedy Library's Learning Commons. Throughout summer 2008 Kennedy Library students and staff spent hundreds of hours relocating and consolidating print book and journal collections into the Library's quieter upper three floors. The result: the new, expanded Learning Commons, anchored on one end by students and staff who provide expert technical support at the Learning Commons Desk, and on the other by Kennedy Library's latest partner: Julian's Café and Patisserie. In between are over 200 new chairs and soft seats inviting both individual and informal group study as well as eight state-of-the-art group study rooms where students can share their work, collaborate on projects, and practice presentations.

The goal of the expanded Learning Commons is to provide students with more diverse learning environments that support students at every stage of their work. On the menu: natural light, high-speed wireless access, ample room to spread out books for focus or reflection and spaces to meet and work in groups. That's not to mention excellent coffee, nourishing food, and opportunities to relax in friendly company.

Everywhere across the nation and the world, academic libraries are evolving and becoming campus hot spots for informal learning. University libraries are now "hybrid" spaces where books, people, and digital resources all coexist and flourish, along with previously forbidden food and drink.

Side note:

New on the 2nd floor: Julian's Patisserie

  • M-R: 7am–10pm
  • F: 7am–4:30pm
  • Sat: Closed
  • Sun: 3pm–10pm

The expanded Learning Commons is not only a new resource supporting current students — it's also a pilot for future library and academic spaces and student support. Student feedback from the expanded Learning Commons will help inform the design of a new Library and Academic Center to be built within the next five years. This 112,000 square foot addition will be home to expanded library programs in information use and retrieval, as well as a new campus Center for Inclusive Excellence, made up of student support units that will include the Multicultural Center, the Honors Program, and the Disability Resource Center. Stay tuned for more exciting developments!

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