Subject Area

Library science


In September 2005, Wesleyan University Library, Information Technology Services, and the Student Academic Resources Network (SARN), an umbrella organization for a variety of services, premiered a prototype Information Commons in Olin Library. Technology assistance, traditional reference, writing tutors and information about academic support services are now in one place, providing one-stop shopping for students. Workstations in the Commons facilitate group and individual work, with or without technology, while fitting aesthetically into a grand space combining traditional and modern elements. Some features of the Commons have been immediately successful, while others are changing to increase usage. Reference staff and student technology consultants work well together and group study is common, but the SARN peer advisors have had to do continual outreach to publicize hidden services. Although envisioned as a prototype group instruction area, faculty has yet to use the Commons as such. The uniqueness of Wesleyan’s information commons, in some ways a virtual commons has created this need for ongoing changes and discussions between departments to clarify budget and management issues. The lessons learned will be applied to plans for an expansion of the Commons.


June 2007









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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: