February 6, 2013
Read a message from Project Sponsor, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Dr. Andy Hakin here.
The University of Lethbridge has identified a significant shortfall of primary common, informal learning and social space for students across campus. Of all campus buildings, Markin Hall is the only one that meets a new established minimum target for learning spaces (outside of formal instruction areas). With the exception of the Library Information Network Centre (LINC), less than five per cent of space in our campus buildings is currently allocated as informal study space.
Not only is there an intentional need to re-develop these types of amenities to facilitate learning outside the classroom and retain or attract new students, original planning for the University placed an emphasis on these kinds of spaces as a key part of everyday academic life.
The current Library was built in 2000 to replace the original Library in University Hall. It is a conventional library design that features significant collection space and traditional private and small group study areas. However, the library design emphasized the collection as the central focus rather than a landscape of learning, research and study with access to key student support services and the library collection via the learning commons.
A key opportunity for developing a learning commons and increasing the amount of informal learning space on campus will be to re-assess how patrons access the existing Library collection materials that currently occupy a vast space. With a growing trend toward electronic media such as the Internet and eBooks, a large portion of traditional library resources are being accessed with less frequency.
As such, the Library and Learning Commons project would aim to appropriately ‘right size’ the physical collection through significant reduction efforts using contemporary academic library standards as a guide. This would enable floor areas to be re-allocated in a way that provides a Learning Commons and customizable learning environments to compliment the diversity of student learning requirements.
In addition to the Learning Commons, the vision includes learning spaces hubs distributed in strategic locations across the academic core, and new learning resource centres affiliated with departments or faculties. Commuter lounge spaces would also be implemented across the University to influence students to stay on campus between classes.
The Library and Learning Commons Key Parametres [PDF] inception planning document outlines the institutional vision and framework for learning spaces across campus.