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May 4, 2005 - 7:54am

Center will combine information, teaching and technology components to enhance the undergraduate experience

AUSTIN, Texas (May 4, 2005) - An array of coordinated information resources and instructional services will become available for exploration in the coming months at The University of Texas at Austin's Flawn Academic Center, which soon will undergo changes in existing space and use to become an expanded learning commons. The changes will transform the building, which contains the Undergraduate Library, into a centrally located, 24-hour information commons. The project is a coordinated effort by the University of Texas Libraries, the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment, the Rhetoric and Composition unit of the College of Liberal Arts, Information Technology Services (ITS), the Writing Center and the School of Information.

"Today's UT students multi-task in a digital, multimedia world. And now they will have a very special non-virtual spa - the Flawn Academic Center - filled with information and learning professionals to guide them as they study, create and discover," said Sheldon Ekland-Olson, executive vic president and provost.

"The multi-disciplinary approach envisioned here will enable us not only to provide more seamless service to students and faculty, but also to explore - and assess - new frontiers in technology-enhanced instruction and information discover" said Dan Updegrove, the university's vice president for information technology.

During the summer 2005, the collections in the Undergraduate Library (some 90,000 volumes) will be relocated to other libraries on campus. The books will be added to the other 8 million volumes held by the various research facilities on campus. Also, the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment will initiate its move into the new information and learning commons and other transformations will follow.

"This is the perfect solution for our Libraries and for the students we serve - partnering to foster creativity and collaboration and in doing so making the most efficient use of our highly skilled staff and the multiplicity of information resources we offer," said Fred Heath, vice provost and director of The University of Texas Libraries.

By September 2006, it is intended that the School of Information will be a visible presence in the new space, providing an academic anchor to the design and delivery of new learning and discovery spaces. The presence of the School of Information will further enrich the learning environment, offering graduate students opportunities to work with skilled staff to mentor and assist undergraduates. Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information said, "content is now decoupled from context, freeing people to access and use information wherever they are, so we need to educate the next generation of information professionals to design, organize and curate information in this digital world. The new center will enable us to redefine our curriculum around projects and services that really matter for people."

Planning will begin soon to determine how best to use the existing space. All partners within the center will continue to work closely with student and faculty representatives as expanding technological opportunities in support of learning, study and information access evolve.

"We look forward to helping students create innovative presentations with instructional technologies and to supporting online learning experiences. The synergy of these partnerships will further enrich the undergraduate experience as well as teaching and learning excellence at UT," said Judy Ashcroft, associate vice president and director of the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment.


Comments or need more information? Contact Carole Cable at carole.cable@mail.utexas.edu or (512)495-4350.


For more information about this and all University of Texas Libraries news releases, please contact the current Communications Director, Travis Willmann, at traviswillmann@austin.utexas.edu or (512) 495-4644.


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