Commons Model In Libraries - Challenges & Successes


In the last few years academic libraries in the United States embraced the new Commons model, where each of these commons, such as learning commons, research commons, subject and format commons, etc., has its own specific characteristics and role within the library. However, this new trend mainly has been the result of increased reliance on electronic collections and increased need for collaborative work. Users want continuous access to all resources in a variety of locations, which is not always feasible due to resource and staffing limitations. To adapt to this new model, library spaces have been transformed to accommodate the needs for collaborative work. Additionally, staff skills and duties have also been transforming with librarians and support staff becoming partners in the research process as opposed to being transmitters of information. We will briefly discuss different commons models and give examples of challenges and successful space transformations. We will explore the skillsets of the new workforce needed for this new reality and the new positions in Libraries that are advertised. Like academic libraries, iSchools will have to adapt as well since this is where new members of the workforce are cultivated and educated. At the same time, professional development in the libraries is an important component of bringing current staff up to speed in the changing environment. We will also share our experience with implementing library commons and discuss the different commons that exist at the University of Maryland Libraries, such as the Terrapin Learning Commons, Research Commons and its subsidiaries Research Commons @ EPSL (Engineering and Physical Sciences Library) and Research Commons @ MSPAL (Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library), and Media Commons.