Mission & Philosophy
The mission of the Loyola University Chicago Information Commons is to fulfill the Loyola Promise, "Preparing People to Lead Extraordinary Lives," by providing a technology-rich learning environment that supports both collaborative and individual research.
In support of this mission, the Information Commons will:
- Create a library environment that is flexible, open, empowering, comfortable, inviting and conducive to study and research
- Facilitate collaboration through group study rooms, group workstations, software packages and open spaces to accommodate a variety of group needs
- Provide access to technology and library professionals to facilitate access to encourage the creation of new scholarship
- Partner with others whose mission is to facilitate the learning, research and service objectives of the university
The concept of an Information Commons (IC) is part of a national trend which has three objectives:
- Focusing on the needs of undergraduate students
- Providing a one-stop shopping experience for all types of information needs: Library research, technology and more
- Considering how and why we access and use information
The Information Commons idea is also a response by libraries to the current trends of technology in higher education, globalization as it relates to information, e-learning and students' need for flexible hours.
In the past decade, librarians have observed that students need and expect to have:
- Spaces to meet and work together
- Access to up-to-date technology
- The ability to communicate easily with friends, family and classmates
For universities to be competitive for students, these needs must be addressed.
The Loyola Information Commons project attempts to respond to these needs and address a critical need for new library space. Our students ask for, and expect, more and better study space, more computers, more quiet areas and group work space. In short, they want a better learning environment. The Information Commons will meet those needs in an architecturally stunning, technologically advanced facility which will be flexible, open, comfortable and conducive to serious study and research.
The best way to explain what we are trying to accomplish is to describe what we call the three C's: Collaboration, Connectivity, and Community.
Learning is a social activity, and group learning is a trend in higher education today, including team learning, collaborative projects and presentations, and study groups. Students are both required to work together on class assignments and projects, and they like to study informally in groups with their friends.
Our response in the Information Commons is to provide spaces and tools to aid group work. Specifically, the Information Commons will include 35 group study rooms, numerous group computing work stations, several classrooms and seminar rooms, flexible furniture and software packages aimed at facilitating collaboration.
Students today are multitaskers, in constant communication with others via cell phones, e-mail and the Internet; plugged into music everywhere they go; playing video games alone and in groups; watching TV, videos and DVDs; often simultaneously!
These are the "net generation" students, or "millennials," most of whom have very high levels of technological literacy and expect, among other things, that the university will provide anytime, anywhere high-speed internet access. This is something many schools offer, including universities in this area. For Loyola to be competitive, we need to do the same.
Therefore, our response in the Information Commons is to provide 300 internet-connected computers, offer wireless networking throughout the building, circulate 30–50 wireless laptops, provide a Website or portal which connects users with a myriad of online library resources and technology tools, and offer services which facilitate connections with the world.
Students need a place to gather which is not home (or their dorm room) or class or work. They want a comfortable, safe place to meet friends, to relax, to read, to study and conduct research, and to take part in any number of group activities of an informal nature.
Our response in the Information Commons is to offer a variety of seating areas and furniture to accommodate different study and reading habits and which encourage group interaction; provide a café for food, relaxation and informal meetings; designate the third floor as a quiet study area including a no-computing reading room/study lounge; offer longer hours of operation; and dedicate one area of the building to gaming.
In the future, we will provide new services and equipment as technologies advance. The building is designed to be as flexible as possible, providing the perfect environment for our students to study, do research and relax. We also plan to develop a parallel virtual library of electronic resources that can be accessed on-site or remotely.
The Information Commons is a partnership between the University Libraries and Information Technology Services, with other stakeholders joining us in the future. Thus, the IC will bring together information seekers (students, faculty, staff) and information providers (librarians and technology specialists) in a synergistic relationship that will result in better service for students. Their needs will be met quickly and more fully, without "run around" in one convenient, centrally-located facility.
This idea is parallel to the one-stop-shopping concept embodied in the Sullivan Center for Student Services. In the case of the Information Commons, this service will be fulfilled in large measure at a central, Super Help Desk staffed by librarians and technology advisors, a place where all types of questions can be answered.