By Mary Chan
Students returning to school this fall will notice something different about the MacKimmie Library. The entire second floor of the Library Tower, Block and Link will emerge from construction as the new Information Commons.
“Basically, this facility has been transformed from a traditional library facility where we had largely print and electronics to a new facility called an information commons,” said Project Manager Lori Van Rooijen.
The Commons will contain 165 full productivity workstations equipped with office programs such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Another 19 terminals will only allow access to the library catalogue, internet and e-mail. It will also house 10 collaborative workrooms which students can book for groupwork and a new classroom facility containing another 58 computers used for tutorials on library services or related topics.
“Technically, a student should be able to access the information they need, use technology to manipulate that information in a way that is appropriate to scholarly research, and in the end have a final product they can hand in to the professor,” said Van Rooijen. “This way it’s all done in one place, in a central facility.”
Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Heather Clitheroe sees the Commons as a way of making students’ lives easier.
“The benefit is that it gives students access to a large bank of computers [and] low-cost printing services,” she said. “The presence of conferencing rooms for students makes groupwork projects a lot easier to try and facilitate, especially when it comes down to students trying to schedule times to meet and places to meet. There should be a good environment for students to do research and work.”
In order to make room for the new facility, changes were made to the library layout. Current periodicals will be relocated to the basement of the Library Tower, while the one-hour and three-day reserve desk will move to the main floor The reserve reading room moves to where the computer lab is now, and the computer lab will relocate to the Elbow Room in Science Theatres.
The $2.25 million Information Commons was funded by the Alberta Ministry of Learning. It will also contain a privately funded 24-hour study area, though it won’t be available right away.
“That won’t be up and running in September, but it will be shortly thereafter,” said Van Rooijen. “We wanted to get the facility up and running first”
The study area will be located in the Library Link, where students will be able to access computer terminals.
The Student Academic Assembly consulted on the project.
“Representatives from the Info Commons would come to make presentations regarding the design that they hoped for,” said Clitheroe. “They had different plans and asked for student feedback, first from our representatives and then asking the representatives to take the information out to the student body at large and come back with more information.”
The planned date of completion of construction on the Information Commons is Sept. 7. The official opening is Oct. 1, 1999, though students will have their own official opening on Sept. 30, 1999.