When Hampshire College was founded in 1968, the library was designed as the educative aorta of the College. This fall, Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash charged the library to engage in a campus-wide process to develop a proposal for a Library Learning Commons that will be established on the ground floor of the library when the campus bookstore moves into the new Portal Building. (The full charge from the President is available on the Learning Commons blog.)
A Library Learning Commons Steering Committee worked with faculty, staff and students to imagine a Harold F. Johnson Library as the intellectual heart of the campus. The Steering Committee, comprised of Deans, faculty and staff from across areas that include the Advancement Office, Creativity Center, School of Critical Social Inquiry, Curriculum and Assessment, Dean of Students Office, Facilities Management, School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, Information Technology, School of Natural Science, & Rehamping, developed a proposal for a Learning Commons that will be considered as part of a larger campus strategic planning initiative and could be implemented as soon as 2015.
Key features of the proposed learning commons include flexible, open, collaborative, technology-rich spaces that support both quiet study and group study activities. The Learning Commons will provide Hampshire College with a library that is the intellectual and social hub of the campus. Our ideas for the Hampshire College library resonate with other progressive library plans, like exciting changes planned for the Boston Public Library as reported in this recent New York Times article.
Libraries have never been more important centers for community and intellectual life, and Hampshire College is well on its way to developing a vision for a 21st Century Library that supports our unique divisional curriculum.