A Visit to the USF Learning Commons

USF's Learning Commons
USF’s Learning Commons

I attended the University of South Florida for by my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  While I was there I spent many, many hours in the library.  For the most part, it was pretty traditional then – six floors and a basement with stacks and stacks of books, plus some common areas and computer labs.  The biggest change that happened while I was there was the addition of a Starbucks (I spent a lot of time there too).

My husband is currently working on his Master’s degree (also in Library Science – we’re a librarian family!) and he had to stop by campus during spring break to see one of his professors.  I tagged along, and used the opportunity to check out USF’s new Learning Commons, which takes up several floors of the library.

custom furn

On every floor of the library, USF lets you know what the volume level is.  They have specific floors that are super-quiet, but most floors allow for conversations.  They have so many comfy nooks like the one above for students to hang out and work on projects.  There’s comfy furniture all over the place, and lots of it is on wheels so that students can easily reconfigure it to suit their needs.

Teaming tables and whiteboards
Teaming tables and whiteboards

My favorite part of the Learning Commons is the teaming tables area.  This floor has tons of teaming tables and whiteboards available for group collaboration.  Each of these tables has instructions on how to use it to display your device on a television screen by using cables built into the table.  I’ve been thinking about getting one of these for my library, and I was excited to see USF using them.

Group room
Group room

Throughout the library, there were also glassed in study/group rooms available.  I love how these create a variety of spaces for students to work in.

compact stacks

This is how USF was able to create so much extra space for their Learning Commons.  All of the reference section is now located in compact stacks in the basement.  Everything is still available, but it’s a little harder to get to.  They already have such an amazing database system available to students, that physical reference isn’t really needed that often anymore.

I really enjoyed getting to see what USF has done with their library, and I’m hoping to go back for a visit when students are there so that I can see it in action.  They’re apparently adding additional improvements to their Learning Commons over the summer.  I’m glad to see schools in my area staying on the cutting edge of what’s going on in libraries.