Open Conference Systems at Dalhousie, International Association of University Libraries, 2016 Conference

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After the Ribbon-cutting: Guerrilla-style Assessment of Two Brand New Learning Commons
Linda Bedwell, Donna Bourne-Tyson

Last modified: 2016-03-07


Visiting the Dalhousie University campus provides a unique opportunity to see not just one, but two freshly constructed Learning Commons. The first, the Wallace McCain Learning Commons (an extension to our Life Sciences Centre), was opened in October 2015 – a LEED Gold candidate with environmental design features and multifunctional, student-centric, collaborative and individual work spaces. The second, the Kellogg Library Learning Commons in the brand new Collaborative Health Education Building (CHEB), was opened in January 2016 – a compact, high-density learning commons with various types of work spaces to support interdisciplinary work and social learning interactions among the various health disciplines.

Planning and design of new learning commons does not end with ribbon-cutting and the opening of doors. Opportunities for changes and improvements arise as students, staff and faculty fill these spaces and begin to use, interact with, and repurpose elements of the design, the furniture, the services and resources. To seize these opportunities in a timely manner, learning commons staff employed “guerrilla”-style assessment tactics (unconventional, simple and tailored specifically for the space and concerns at hand) in order to ascertain user satisfaction, user behaviour and what changes were necessary to create a better fit between user and design.