By Vin Gallo
As the sweet, warm gales of spring blow against the hollow shell of Babson Library, the roar of cranes and construction machines can be heard across central campus. Slender white rods have appeared on the facing of the building, signifying the preparation of window installment. It will not be long before the new Learning Commons are up and running, towering over the Naismith Green from across Alden Street.
The grand opening is quickly approaching. The offices and departments that are planned to be stationed in the Learning Commons will move in during August, and the building will be officially opened for the 2017 fall semester.
But what is scheduled to appear in the new library? What will it look like? Director of the Learning Commons Andrea Taupier said that one of the top priorities during construction is making the commons accessible. “The stairs haven’t all come down yet,” she said. “They’re going to be moving the electrical transformer that was underneath [the stairs] to the back. Once that happens the rest of the stairs will come down. With [the learning commons] you’ll go straight in, there’s no stairs – it’ll be fully accessible.”
At the front of the building’s interior, there will be the Technology Solutions Center, now known as the Center for Technology Media Services. The current office for media services in Locklin Hall will be combined with technology services. Taupier also anticipates that there will be space to set up a café on the main floor.
A “hub” will be located on the second floor, which will act as a research area where librarians will be accessible for assistance. There will also be an open space called the forum, which will have a green screen that can stream video for a group or classroom of students. 24-hour study space will be available for students in the basement.
After ten years of student assistance, The Academic Success Center will be moving from its quarters from within Hickory Hall and into the third floor of the library. The office will specifically make up the center portion of the floor.
“The main difference is that we will have the space to do what we need to do,” said Director of the Academic Success Center Andrew Wilcox. “There’s 10 different programs [within] the Academic Success Center, but our tutorial programs have been crammed into a space that is probably less than 500 square feet. [In the library] we will have close to 3,000 square feet [to work with], so it will be more spread out.”
With the ASC relocating to an area like the learning commons, a full academic experience will be in effect.
“The library services will continue to be able to serve students and [students will] have the ASC too, which allows them to work on their academics and have access to help right then and there,” Wilcox explained. “In pairing that with the CETLS you’ll get a lot more interaction. For the students it’ll be more effortless to receive the help that they want.”
Wilcox is also excited that there will be a more spacious area for the Success Center’s tutors to work with students.
“Another big area [of our offices] that has been a crunch for us is one-on-one [working areas] with students,” he said. “In small spaces [at Hickory] you can’t really have a private conversation, so there will be a lot of options with the [Learning Common’s] group study rooms. Our testing area has been pretty squeezed with space, as well, but with the library, 16 to 20 students will have the space to test.”
With the Learning Commons at its new home, the Academic Success Center will look to expand on its tutorials. The department recently launched a program in “Online Writing Assistance for Distance Learners” along with writing and reading support services math/science support services will have a bigger space to spread out one-stop-shop for all services.
The CETLS (Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Scholarship) department will reside on the fourth floor. In addition to assistance for students on the third floor, the building will also have services for faculty. This floor will feature hard copies of books, serve as a quiet floor, and provide general library services, such as spaces to collaborate with distance learners and a technology lab.
“[CETLS] is for teacher support, it’s a way of [executing] faculty development,” said Interim Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Missy Marie Montgomery. “It shows that [Springfield] is a teaching college. We want to support both new and veteran [professors].”
Taupier believes that the new commons will enhance student learning, and is open to actively improving services once the building is up and running.
“We’re all going to learn what the student needs are,” she said. “Once the building opens we want feedback of what’s working and what they’d like to see changed.”
With the learning commons set to open its doors in the fall, Springfield College is poised to begin a new era of efficient academic services.