Learning Commons ready for its big debut

Posted by Lori Shull - Wednesday, August 24 2011
lshull@tntech.edu

thumb LibraryDebutMost of the desks are in, comfy chairs and booths are scattered around the huge, open space and the café looks like it is nearly ready to open.

Tennessee Tech University’s 30,000 square-foot Library Commons is nearly ready for its big debut.

As students and faculty return to campus, they will see a barely recognizable first floor of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library.

Gone are the hundreds of stacks of books, replaced by computers, group study rooms, more printers, tutoring hubs and dozens of electrical outlets.

“We’ve already had a few students come in and check it out. They said they loved the space, being able to spread out,” TTU Dean of Library and Learning Assistance Doug Bates said. “If I were to predict, I would say they’re going to be most excited about the electricity.”

To introduce the campus community to its updated research space, library staff will hold a series of events in the Commons. Faculty will be able to explore the space’s offerings during two separate open houses on Aug. 24. Students will have their chance during an open house on Sept. 6 and anyone can come on Sept. 9. Students will also get the chance to win an iPad2 or a Dell laptop by participating in the “Amazing Commons Race,” a scavenger hunt around the renovated space.

“We’ll be providing them some information, giving them a tour, showing them our facilities and letting them get a feel for our services,” Bates said. “We’re going to try to make it a little bit fun, give them a chance to get to know what we offer here.”

Several new services will be in place in the Commons, including a satellite office for the Technology Institute, which will have a demonstration room to help faculty learn how to integrate technology into the classroom and an IT help desk.

“It will be a huge advantage to have IT help in the building,” Bates said. “One of the keys to the success of this entire operation is to provide up-to-date technology with convenient support and assistance.”

The Commons is one of TTU’s key initiatives to try to improve student retention and graduation rates. At 72 percent, the college has one of the highest retention rates among four-year Tennessee Board of Regents universities, but campus officials are looking to improve it 8 to 10 points within the next five years.

“If nothing else, it provides more access to plugs and technology. We can build on it from there,” Bates said. “We’re still planning events and services we may expand on or offer in the future.”