Subject Area

Library science


The term commons has been used in library, information and technology parlance since before 1990: the Information – Learning – Knowledge - Research - Library – Creative – Patent Commons. Most uses of these terms refer to some combination of the continuum of high-touch high-tech patron services. Most Commons’ are focused intensely on patron needs, however defined, and housed in, or proximous to, a library. Some are new facilities, well-planned and financed, elaborately implemented, and well-resourced. Some, at the other end of the spectrum, are more concept than physical reality, but still provide, however minimally or incrementally, some of the same continuum of resources focused on patron needs.

This presentation seeks to explicate the constituent Commons spirit as it arises, however minimal, incremental, unique and uncommon.


June 2007









The author(s) permits users to copy, distribute, display, and perform this work under the following conditions: (1) the original author(s) must be given proper attribution; (2) this work may not be used for commercial purposes; (3) the users may not alter, transform, or build upon this work; (4) users must make the license terms of this work clearly known for any reuse or distribution of this work. Upon request, as holder of this work’s copyright, the author(s) may waive any or all of these conditions.


This presentation was given at the NorthEast Computing Program (NERCOMP) Event “Uncommon Commons” held Tuesday, June 5, 2007, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, Norwood, MA. Event organizer/hosts: Beatrice Pulliam, Providence College, and Lisa Wiecki, Brandeis University.

Workshop introduction: "The term Information or Learning Commons has been used to describe a wave of integrated service environments cropping up in libraries around the globe. These collaborative learning spaces are a place where information seekers have ready access to services and resources. Each institution seems to have its own special interpretation or spin on what a "commons" is or does. For some libraries the ideas and concepts surrounding the "commons" translate into something unique, unusual… uncommon. In this session we will showcase examples of creative use of existing space, staff, and resources in the implementation of a "commons" environment. Models of smaller, informal, inexpensive common spaces in libraries and other information service environments will also be highlighted."

For more information on this event and presenters visit:

DRBailey IC toLC - Definitions.doc (35 kB)
Definitions: Information Commons To Learning Commons