Libraries Open Silent Study, Graduate-Friendly Space
AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas Libraries has opened a new space in the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) designed to meet the needs of graduate students and other dedicated scholars.
The Scholars Commons is a proof-of-concept pilot envisioned to provide a place in the flagship branch of the Libraries for undisturbed study and scholarly collaboration by advanced degree program participants.
The Libraries conducted focus groups in spring 2015 with graduate students and faculty to learn more about their research and writing needs, and received survey input from over 1,100 participants. The Scholars Commons bring to life the spaces and services with support from other players in the campus research enterprise, including the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Graduate School and the Graduate Student Assembly.
The Scholars Commons includes a silent study area, a data lab, a Graduate Landing Spot and a modest exhibition space, all situated in the former periodicals room and adjacent staff office spaces on the entry level of the PCL.
The silent study area was created specifically at the request of graduate student patrons of the Libraries whose needs have, at times, been deferred in order to support the larger undergraduate community on campus. Though open to all students, it’s expected that the solitary, meticulous learning style of advanced scholars will be more suited to the space.
The Data Lab will provide software for statistical analysis, data visualization, and text encoding, and users will also have access to digital content management software and other web-based tools for digital scholarship. The Graduate Landing Spot will be an exclusive communal area where graduates from across the disciplines can meet, share ideas and potentially strike up interdisciplinary collaborations. And the small exhibition space will provide opportunities for visual presentations to showcase faculty and student research in a condensed form.
The space also realizes a need to co-locate a community environment for graduates within reach of the valuable resources and subject liaison librarian research lifecycle expertise at the PCL.
“We are leveraging entry level space made available through strategic facilities planning to introduce and assess responses to services scholars have identified as ideal for intellectual inquiry and productivity,” says Jenifer Flaxbart, Research and Liaison Services Librarian. “Ultimately, our ability to advocate for and justify an expanded, permanent Scholars Commons on another level in PCL will hinge on the response of the scholarly community to these pilot spaces and services.”
The launch of the Scholars Commons continues the trend of re-envisioning the entry-level of PCL as a sandbox for experimenting with ways to improve the user experience and expand collaborations with campus partners. It follows the August 2015 opening of the Learning Commons and precedes by mere days the opening of space for STEM students in the adjacent UFCU Room.
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Monday, January 25, 2016 - 8:32am