Library celebrates Learning Commons with ribbon cutting ceremony

By Kelly Manalo, Staff Writer


The library is now home to the new Learning Commons, which has four core services: the Multimedia Center, formerly known as the MARS Lab, Program Leading to University Success, Writer’s Center and the library.

“The Learning Commons was designed to be conducive to collaborative studies and is for whoever needs the space. There are new white boards on wheels, chairs on wheels, so you can shift your formation depending on the type of work,” said Rose Knight, Business manager of libraries.

Another new addition to the Learning Commons is the “media:scape,” a collaborative technology table. There are two computer screens to a table that can be hooked up to Apple or PC laptops.

It is a new central place for critical services: research, writing, multimedia and tutoring for classes, according to Knight.

Colin Ormsby, Ph.D., interim vice provost for undergraduate affairs, said, “This was a very collaborative process; 140 faculty, staff and students [were] involved in the planning process.”

According to Knight, President Rodolfo Arévalo dedicated money to the budget, while each department contributed their people and time.

“Colin calculated how long it would take to reach all these resources [before the Learning Commons was implemented]. It took 20 minutes to get to each department. They all have interrelated services, and now you can come to one place to find them,” said Knight.

According to Knight, the main floor will be louder, but there will be zoned areas in the building with multi-use and quiet areas. Quiet areas will be maintained upstairs and downstairs.

Knight expressed the different departments hope that the services will be better known and maximized. “Maybe after this point more students might use these services,” said Knight.

The Multimedia Commons, PLUS and the Writers’ Center have all extended their hours to match the library’s hours. Last year the MARS Lab was not open on weekends and now as the Multimedia Commons they are. More students have been hired to accommodate these changes.

“Every phase of the project, [the] students have been a part of,” said Knight. They were included in selecting all the furniture and toured various learning commons in Seattle.

“The university came through and really cared about what we [the students] thought,” said Kaleb Hoffer, ASEWU president.

Carl Combs, Office of Information Technology technical support services supervisor invites students to come to the multimedia commons anytime, as it is a general use lab. He suggests the 16 computers in the multimedia commons should be used for higher end multimedia and designing since there is a limited number of computers.
As far as updates, wireless in the library has been upgraded because the university predicts that traffic will increase and all equipment check-out has been consolidated to the lower level of the library, according to Combs.

“Every pillar now has additional power and data,” said Office of Information Technology applications manager Lena Cress.

PLUS offers study groups, individual tutoring and online tutoring in the Learning Commons. Each year PLUS serves 3,000 students. “Tutoring got more funding and we now have more tutors than ever,” said program director Verlinda Washburn.

According to Washburn, students that visit the tutoring program on five or more occasions receive GPA grades that are .5 to .8 points higher.

The Writers’ Center has professional writing staff that can address issues with creative, technical, science and basic English writing. Appointments can be made and walk-in times are also available.

Knight suggests students, “Try it out, tell us how you like it, dislike it, from there we’ll adjust. There is no cookie-cutter definition. We’re really counting on students to tell us how effective it is.”