New Library Facility at Drexel to Study How Individuals Learn
February 25, 2011
Drexel University Libraries will unveil a new facility on the University’s campus in the spring. This new facility, the Library Learning Terrace, has already caused a buzz among undergraduate students, faculty and professional staff. More than 200 students attended information sessions about the Terrace and provided feedback on its purpose and design. These student ideas, and additional comments, sent through a blog were considered in planning the new library concept. With construction underway, people on campus are eager to see how this new space will affect learning.
Designed by Philadelphia-based Erdy McHenry Architects, the 3,000-square-foot Library Learning Terrace will be located on the ground floor of the Race Street Residence Hall at 33rd and Race Streets, with completion set for April.
“This is the first step toward embedding the Libraries across campus,” Dean of Libraries Danuta A. Nitecki said. “The Library Learning Terrace will give us the ability to study what contributes to an individual’s learning and to define a new library environment.”
Located in the heart of the University’s residence halls, the Learning Terrace will feature flexible indoor space with endless possibilities. Currently, the Libraries are collaborating with Drexel’s Writing Center, tutors, technological experts and teachers to see how the Learning Terrace can provide new opportunities to students, as they become intentional learners.
“The Library Learning Terrace offers us another place to define the library as a learning enterprise,” Nitecki said. “A place where we can actively engage students in using information and mastering learning skills.”
Physically the Terrace will house a variety of seating, allowing students to arrange places best suited for their learning style or tasks. Students have flexibility to work at individual tables or work collaboratively in groups by assembling tables and partitions. Librarians and other experts will be present at various times at a consultation hub.
Drexel’s Libraries have already seen success with using technology to engage students in collaborative learning through a media:scape located in the University’s main library facility W.W. Hagerty Library. The media:scape enables individual users to connect multiple laptops to a single screen and work together on group projects and learning. “The media:scape has become a popular resource in the library,” Nitecki said. “Our students have expressed a fondness for the Libraries for providing multiple spaces and venues for learning. As we move forward, we are excited to see how students utilize the Learning Terrace to integrate new technologies and flexible furnishings as venues for learning and collaboration.”
Expanding the Learning Terrace concept further, the Libraries is currently exploring the possibility of developing numerous library hubs throughout the Drexel campus. These smaller stations will serve as additional learning spaces where small groups of students can collaborate and receive assistance from University staff members. The Libraries can also use these hubs to further expand upon the thriving My Personal Librarian program, in which incoming students are each assigned a personal liaison in the Libraries.
“This plan combines the productivity of a study space with the resources of the library,” said Lucas Hippel, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association.
Academic libraries not only provide access to information, but can also help individuals as they use information in furthering their own learning. Drexel University Libraries was a leader in striving to surpass the traditional definition of a library and in exploring new ways to support learning through environment and technology.
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Niki Gianakaris, director, Drexel News Bureau, Office of University Communications
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