Information Commons Discussion Group

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What is an "Information Commons"?

The idea of the “information commons” comes from an old tradition of communities having common pieces of land available for all people in the community to use. In libraries, the idea is to provide a space where students have all the resources they need to work on assignments: computers, software, research assistance, technical assistance, collaborative workspace, and relaxing space.

GGC Information Commons

Currently GGC Library provides two information commons locations: The Mezzanine on the second floor of B Building, and The Den, located in rooms A1510 and A1450. These two locations provide a total of 111 computers (PCs and iMacs), printing, scanners, collaborative study spaces, soft seating, study tables, and help desks.

Vision of Future GGC Information Commons

Our goal is to provide and manage comfortable and welcoming physical spaces where students can work on assignments alone or collaboratively, and to assist students in the use of applications to complete their assignments.

The new Library building under construction will have 80 workstations available, as well as a help desk and plenty of laptop-friendly seating for students to study or relax.

Eventually, we would like to have computers available wherever students are on campus that will provide not only Internet access and necessary software, but also research assistance via communication with a virtual librarian.

Goal of This Wiki Page

The purpose of this Wiki page is to provide an opportunity for GGC students to participate in the improvement of current computing spaces and the planning of future computing space at GGC.

Please feel free to participate in discussions here on the Information Commons Wiki and let us know how we’re doing, share your ideas about computing spaces at GGC and service ideas.

Who Am I?

My name is Scott Gillies. I am the Head of Library Information Systems, and in addition to many other duties, I am responsible for open computing spaces at GGC. All computing spaces are managed by the Library and staffed with Library personnel. The technology is supported by the User Support section of the Office of Educational Technology. I can be reached at: sgillies@ggc.usg.edu

History of GGC Information Commons

Here is a brief history of the Information Commons at GGC Library:

Summer, 2005: We had our first real discussion of a need for an information commons.

October 25, 2005: A couple of us from the Library visited Georgia Tech information commons. We eventually visited other institutions as well, including UGA’s new Learning Resources Center and Auburn University’s Digital Resource Laboratory.

March 30, 2006: First written proposal for an information commons. The original idea envisioned three stages:

  • Set up a small number of computers in the current Reference Library (in what is now the Mezzanine) with production software in addition to the standard library load and see what kinds of issues arise.
  • Create a full-scale research and production area in the space we currently had available (in what is now the Mezzanine).
  • Create a research and production area, designed from the ground up, in collaboration with other interested parties, in a new space specifically designed for it (what is now the Den in A1510 and A1450).

Spring, 2006: I worked with a former member of our IT staff to set up 4 computers in one of the Mezzanine study rooms (B2020) which had MS Office on them, in addition to our typical library services. Originally, we required users to log in; eventually we dropped that requirement. These computers were almost instantly in constant use. The reference collection was still housed on the Mezzanine, and software questions were fielded at the reference desk. We did not require reference librarians to help students with these questions, but encouraged them to if they wished. Setting up a small number of computers the way I thought I wanted them was a wise idea after all. After a few months, I polled all of the reference librarians about what kinds of computer questions they were being asked. The result is a list of 88 tasks that I ask new job applicants to address. Ultimately, this resulted in a computers skills manual available to employees and students.

Sep. 29, 2006: A number of librarians met to actually decide what we would build. We wanted a facility where students could have a comfortable and welcoming space to work on their assignments and receive help using the applications they needed to use, but also a comfortable place to relax between classes. Libraries have spent years trying to bring the library to students’ homes, so I thought it would be a worthwhile goal to bring their living room to the library.

October, 2006: During October a member of the IT staff worked with me to get 14 more computers set up with MS Office.

Winter Break, 2006-07: First floor library is expanded into B1600, B1700, B1750 and B1800.

January, 2007: Reference collection is moved to first floor and many first floor computers are moved to the Mezzanine.

February, 2007: Department of Educational Technology supplies us with 25 additional PC’s.

February 7, 2007: Mezzanine opens for business as an information commons.

February-March, 2007: Mezzanine computers are put under a domain controller and active directory services.

August, 2007: Mac Lab opens for business as an open lab in B2700, but also could be reserved for specific classes and training.

January, 2008: 12 iMacs added to the Mezzanine and 4 PC’s are moved out into hallway to provide computing for times when the library is closed.

May, 2008: GGC Library took over two former Georgia Perimeter College facilities in A Building (A1510 and A1450).

Summer, 2008: A1510 and A1450 are remodeled into a second information commons and Mac lab.

September, 2008: New information commons opens in A Building (The Den) in rooms A1510 and A1450.

August, 2010: New library building to open, with 80-seat information commons and 38 study rooms and collaborative space.

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