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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 03 | Feb. 8, 2001

Learning Commons takes shape inside Main Library

Collegial environment designed as a space where community members can build learning skills

The main concourse in Main Library will be restored and transformed into a learning commons, thanks to a $1-million gift from two former UBC students.

"The Learning Commons has been a top priority," says university librarian, Catherine Quinlan. "It goes back to Trek 2000 which speaks to the need to support learning and research. The concept is also included in UBC's Academic Plan."

Donors Dr. Lloyd and Mrs. Katherine Chapman, both attended UBC in the 1930s.

Plans for the commons, which is now under construction in the area which formerly housed the card catalogue, include support for advanced learning and research and innovative computer technology.

It will be a staffed space where all students, faculty, staff, and community members can build their learning skills while accessing the library's extensive information resources.

The facility will include study space. There will also be an informal gathering space to encourage the collegial environment and spirited dialogues that are central to a university as a forum of lively minds, says Quinlan.

She says the Learning Commons is an exciting addition to the university.

"It gives us an opportunity to see what students' needs and expectations are. As undergraduate programs become more focused on problem-based learning and research, how we support them, not just in the Library but campus-wide, is important."

The Chapmans have been long-time supporters of the university, says Quinlan.

"They were very interested in supporting a project that, in their words, `is forward thinking, showcases quality and excellence, and enhances the quality of living for human beings.' We're honoured to be given the opportunity to make this happen."

The commons will focus particularly on welcoming and integrating first-year students so they feel a part of the learning community more quickly.

Students in upper years of study will be available as tutors and mentors to other students through formal programs, as well as the natural interactions of a shared study area.

The university is establishing an endowment to support student programs based in the Learning Commons.

These programs will focus on: academic skills enhancement and tutoring; student leadership training; career and personal development programs; and technology-supported peer group learning. Service-learning programs, including for example, extending student tutoring to members of the community, such as youths, special-needs learners and persons from disadvantaged circumstances, are also planned.

The Learning Commons will also serve as the centrepiece for the proposed University Learning Centre (ULC) project.

UBC is poised to redevelop Main Library as a hub of knowledge, built around and preserving the facility's 76-year-old heritage core.

The ULC will be a multi-purpose facility that builds on the Library's traditional strengths while enhancing learning, research, and social exchange.

Opening of the commons is slated for mid-August.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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