MAC Learning Commons
This summer Mount Aloysius College (MAC) renovated the first floor of the Library into a Learning Commons for students. Learning Commons are a mainstay at many academic institutions across the country. Having begun in many instances as Information Commons for technology access, Learning Commons go beyond providing just technology access to the user. The goal of the Learning Commons is to provide a variety of academic support services, resources, and spaces that support the holistic learning process of the user.
The MAC Learning Commons allows space for co-location of academic support services, flexible and mobile learning areas where users can decide the arrangement of their learning environment, technology rich spaces that allow individuals not only to access materials but to become creators and producers of information, and comfortable and inviting individual and group work environments. Services provided by the Learning Commons include research, technology assistance, and tutoring in one central location. Additionally, the Learning Commons will provide space to administer academic testing to accommodate students with documented disabilities. Staffing for the Learning Commons includes professionals from a variety of academic fields: professional librarians and tutors, paraprofessional library workers, subject and peer tutors, and student workers.
Rationale for a MAC Learning Commons
Learning Commons are built with the recognition that students need access to a variety of services in order to be academically and professionally successful and that the individual plays a large role in their own knowledge development. The development of the MAC Learning Commons was a purposeful decision to make college academic learning support services more visible and accessible to all MAC students. The Learning Commons will focus on excellence in academic endeavors where all students can come to improve their skills in research, writing, technology, presentation, and subject expertise.
The first floor of the Library is now a more open, collaborative, and flexible work area for students. Tall book stacks and carrels were removed, print periodical collections were reduced while increasing electronic access to articles, and collaborative work tables and moveable chairs were installed. Reference materials were also reduced, with many being integrated into the circulating collection to make them more accessible to users. A smaller and more welcoming Reference Desk was placed in closer proximity to the Circulation Desk for easier access to research help. Tutoring services in Academic Hall also moved to the Learning Commons in order to provide easier and more visible access to tutoring assistance. The largest Library study room was upgraded into a practice presentation room for students, incorporating a 42” LCD monitor and 10 circulating laptops for preparing and practicing group presentations. The room will also be used by Library and Learning Commons staff to conduct free academic support workshops for students on topics such as improving critical thinking and time management skills, using research databases, and strategies for avoiding plagiarism and improving writing.
Successful Learning Commons evolve over time through user input. The MAC Learning Commons will rely heavily on feedback and assessment of services to best meet the academic support service needs of its students. Additional collaborations between MAC departments may be identified to expand upon initial services, including areas such as Career Services and Advising. We have prepared a Learning Commons Web site to further explain and provide access to our services.