Document Type

Breakout Session

Publication Date



The Learning Commons concept integrates technology, library services, and other academic support to create a more holistic learning environment. In 2006, the ACU Library partnered with eight other academic entities on campus to transform the library’s role in student learning. Using photos, results from user surveys, and honest talk, we will share insights into how we changed our physical space, our educational role, and our self concept.

Our library conducted user surveys to discover how student learn and how faculty teach. We will first present results from these surveys that guided us in understanding what patrons need in a learning environment. We will show photos of how we changed our physical space. The emphasis will be on how we translated desired learning behaviors into architectural features, and how each design decision – from the technology to the services to the interior aesthetics – was consciously and deliberately linked to learning.

Secondly, we will present evidence as to the effectiveness of the changes. Data include quantitative measures, affective patron data, and observed changes in user behavior.

Finally, we will discuss the most surprising part of our transformation: the changes in our own thinking about what libraries are. A learning commons is not merely a building renovation. It is a different way of thinking about what we do as librarians. We will raise these issues and talk honestly about how our work life is different now, challenging all of us to search within ourselves to answer the question, “Is it worth it?”