York’s Learning Commons in the Scott Library officially opens today

This afternoon, a sparkling new Learning Commons will be unveiled to the York community during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and party. The student portion of the opening starts at noon and the ribbon cutting is set for 3:30pm. Everyone is invited to come to the celebration.

The new Learning Commons is located in the Scott Library on York’s Keele campus. It brings together into one convenient location a host of supports, with everything packaged into a sophisticated student-friendly space (see YFile, March 1).

“The Learning Commons is a new kind of flexible learning space where students can work individually or collaboratively in groups and have access to a variety of academic supports such as research, writing and learning skills assistance,” says Mark Robertson, associate University librarian. Robertson and Norma Sue Fisher Stitt, York’s associate vice-president academic learning initiatives, together with a team of faculty, librarians, staff and students, have been working for more than a year on developing and refining the concepts and programming for the Learning Commons.

While the space is sparkling, the heart and soul of the new space comes by way of its integrated support to student learning at York, says Robertson.

The following is a summary of just some of the supports offered by the Learning Commons to assist students with writing, research, learning skills and career services:

  • Students can access writing support to help them articulate, expand and clarify their thoughts for major papers and assignments. The Writing Department in the York Learning Commons offers students drop-in consultations and workshops.
  • Being a good researcher is just as important as being a good writer. Not sure where to begin? Frustrated by a difficult essay topic? The experts at York University Libraries research desk in the Learning Commons are there to assist students in identifying the best sources of information.
  • Learning skills development offered by Learning Skills Services, through Counselling & Disability Services, offers important assistance to students by teaching them how to learn. As well, students can access support to increase their effectiveness and efficiency at studying and completing assignments. Learning skills development includes help in time management, improving reading and note-taking skills, study strategies for tests and critical thinking skills development. Support is offered through workshops, as well as one-on-one meetings with a learning skills counsellor.
  • What happens after University? The Career Centre offers workshops for students in the Learning Commons that address topics such as understanding the value of a York degree; identifying and articulating skills, abilities and accomplishments; identifying gaps in skill sets that may need addressing; formulating strategies for further skill development; strengthening self-assessment skills; and making informed choices regarding the selection of a major. These skills continue to be useful to students throughout their university career and beyond.
    Above: The Salon in this artist’s depiction houses Scott Library’s collection of reference books and contains quiet pockets of lounge furniture, as well as important modern Canadian art by David Partridge, Claude Tousignant and others

All of these supports are offered in a beautiful space that was designed with four distinct regions:

  • The Collaboratory features modular furniture, including sofas, easy chairs and tables that can be moved and regrouped. The Hill, a central stepped area, offers a terraced seating area where students can plug in and stretch out. There are also booths where groups can meet and work together and review findings and presentations on large flat-panel screens.
  • The Hub provides a place to go for academic support. The Hub is home of the research, writing and learning skills consultation “pods”. In addition, the area is equipped with instructional spaces and computer workstations.
  • The Salon houses the Scott Library’s collection of reference books and quiet pockets of lounge furniture, as well as important modern Canadian art by David Partridge, Claude Tousignant and others.
  • Two state-of-the-art group study rooms will be available for booking by small groups of a minimum of  four people.
  • An art walk area will display work by York students, faculty and staff.

To learn more, be sure to come to the party!

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks, York library staff will be offering guided tours of the space. For more information, visit the York Libraries website.