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Drexel Taking the Library to its Students with Bookless Learning Center

December 16, 2010

Drexel University Libraries is turning the page on the traditional campus library model of one main building in the heart of campus to which students flock with a plan to develop multiple learning spaces across campus, essentially bringing the library to the students.

The strategy, led by Dean of Libraries Dr. Danuta Nitecki, is to establish spaces and programs that promote intentional learning among students as well as interactive collaborations involving students, and faculty and staff with expertise in technology, pedagogy and information.

The first step in this transformation is the creation of a Library Learning Terrace in an area teeming with residence halls on Drexel’s West Philadelphia main campus. This “bookless library” will have wireless capability and stations for students to work and collaborate.

"The library is not a place just for books, it’s about learning and creation of new knowledge,” Nitecki said. “The library is a learning enterprise. This is the first of probably several expressions of learning environments the library will provide.”

As part of Nitecki’s plan to “bring together not just books and information sources, but expertise,” students will be able to make appointments with librarian specialists, tutors or teaching assistants to meet them at the branch for training or assistance in their studies.

Expanding this concept further, the library is exploring the possibility of developing numerous library hubs throughout campus. These smaller stations would serve as learning spaces where small groups of students could collaborate and receive assistance from University staff members.

“This plan combines the productivity of a study space with the resources of the library,” said Lucas Hippel, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association.

The transformation of the library is taking place as the role of the librarian has changed as well. Drexel has already launched a “Personal Librarian Program,” in which each of 2,600 freshmen is assigned to a librarian, and no longer are librarians merely helping students find information. “We’re going one step further: We’re involved in helping (students) utilize this information,” Nitecki said. “We want to help students develop their own skills at finding knowledge. We want people with Drexel degrees to be savvy in navigating and evaluating information.”

The Library Learning Terrace, designed by Philadelphia-based Erdy McHenry Architects, will be 3,000 square feet with 75 seats and will be available to all students. This new learning center will be created on the ground floor of the Race Street Residence Hall at 33rd and Race Streets, with completion set for April 2011.

The addition of other technology at the learning center and its hours of operation are under consideration. Information sessions are currently being held to get feedback from students on what types of furniture and resources they want.

Other campus locations for Library Learning Terraces are under consideration.

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News media contact:

Chris Silvestri, Drexel News Bureau

Office: 215-895-2705; Cell: 215-668-0780

Email: csilvestri@drexel.edu

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