Skip to the content of the web site.

Davis Centre Information Commons Project

Information Commons - notes from many sources
Anne Fullerton/ June 2002

What Happens in an Information Commons?

Partnerships, how it started etc.

How might we configure Information Commons? # workstations , where its located etc.


Ideas, Possibilities for Davis

Questions, Concerns we need to address

  1. Staffing
    • Information Commons Librarian developed vision and goals; cord training and future planning for area.(Nevada); Information Commons Coordinator (Emory)
    • mixture of Reference desk staff, student consultants for software questions and technical assistants
    • ref staff reluctance re tech skills assistance - too far beyond their reference role -not good use of their time?
    • how many hours - til building closes?
    • highly trained software team addresses the difficult software question - Tech Team - also involved with training? Eased transition to ic CSU
    • many use IST staff to manage area
    • library's systems staff - not trained to work on service desks or provide direct assistance to users. Resolve database connectivity, mechanical workstation probs, software installation
    • impact on staff job descriptions
    • unlike ref questions, tech questions need immediate answers, not referrals
    • tools for staff - multiple copies of Office 2000
    • systems responses to technical problems must be asap - e.g. CSU problem with win95/98 formatted floppies and WinNT on workstations; lost data - Systems needs to convey the solution to all ref staff immediately and add issue to the minimum competencies curriculum
    • redefining professional roles and responsibilities - impact on traditional reference services and staff specialization - vs hybrid staff
    • still need specialized staff knowledge in subject and tech areas and effective targeted referrals (Halbert)
    • Guelph - 15 Student Technology Peers; UBC - 15 Leaders in Learning Peer Assistants
    • Nevada - 16 - 18 students; 3 at a time; al the hours the library is open 100/week - students rove every 20 min - trained in 3 day workshop 1 week before IC opened - details in paper; given weekly tutorials, quizzes and hands on assignments to be submitted and evaluated! Trouble shooting log
    • 3 tiers - Iowa-H - 6-7 students @5 - 20 hours per week;
    • how to id users who need help? Beepers to notify that computer is available
    • responsive support in the e-classroom- help button on console
  2. Training
    • info desk staff to learn productivity software and multimedia software?
    • ongoing training for library staff and student consultants is crucial (Emory) since software changes rapidly - minimum competencies curriculum for staff, constantly added to
    • staff must feel comfortable and competent
    • a lot of time required for training - given use of all Office tools, scanners, email, etc.
    • 90 minute sessions at CSU - Windows NT/Windows 2000; File Management: Part I and Part II; Troubleshooting and Maintenance; Applications: Viewers/Plugins; Applications: Utilities; Electronic Services: General - CSU info commons in place in 4 months. - see paper for topic breakdowns
    • voluntary attendance; tutorials on the web and Libraries Staff Tip Sheets Web page
    • also helps staff with their own work to know the above
    • training staff for coaching from the side - not take over the mouse


  3. Access to library resources for community users and other non-UW users (TUG)
    • internet use and notepad only due to authentication system (Nevada)
    • licences for Microsoft Office etc. - limits?
  4. Student input
    • Davis Quiet study are is large (1/3 of Library?)- response to student requests - need to differentiate and protect space re noise levels
    • if a student in a dorm or computer lab has access to e-resources and needs help resolving a research problem, should the help be available in the dorm or lab via help desk technology - digital ref?
    • impact on those looking for a traditional library experience
    • part of the organizational structure since the inception (Calgary)
    • social role of the place - social sharing that results from working and talking in groups - enriches and humanizes the learning experience. (IATUL)
    • users should have strong voice in I.D. ing requirements and services (Tramdack)
  5. Staff Input - Planning
    • staff reluctance to take on more software and technical issues - set up course of action that would "encourage and ensure maximum participation in the planning procedure" (CSU) e.g. discussions on current services in EIC and future possibilities - got unanimous support
    • "importance of ensuring staff participation from the initial planning through implementation is critical
    • minimal competencies list
  6. Costs
    • architectural issues
    • hardware and software up grades needed to replace and up grade
  7. Organizational Structure implications?
    • IC creates an environment where old boundaries are blurred and many constituent activities flow across the old unit divisions. Sees unit heads spend less time and attention on core areas and more on boundaries between units. Called functional coordinators (Beagle)
    • set standards for IC-centered services, to assess their impact and gauge their effectiveness (Tradmark)
    • territorial issues with IT, LT3 groups etc.
  8. Future Uses of the area
    • Decentralized Library Model - distributed access to services instead of centralized. Many mini info labs outside the library. Like branch libraries but enabled by technology, allows services and expertise to be relocated closer to users in their labs and offices. ?? grads and faculty yes - what about undergrads??
    • does above mean we'd be further ahead to send ref staff to computer labs already existing?
    • organizational directives of UW and its organizational culture and structure likely to determine the model
    • flexibility - changing info tech - limited use of technology now in teaching/learning
    • as IC develps, role of library will evolve with it (Tramdack)
  9. Assessment
    • Nevada - fall 2001 - user satisfaction and ways to improve or change IC. Done??
    • UBC - 2002 - How Learning Commons used, questions, concerns of students; successful programs etc to be assessed

Information Commons home

Anne Fullerton, Project Chair

February 23, 2007