What does “Academic Commons” mean, anyway?! “Academic” of course, relates to learning, and “commons” refers to a central location, a meeting place. Still, the two words don’t quite sum up the significant ways the Academic Commons at Penrose Library will transform the DU student experience.
DU is not building “just a library,” and, calling this a “renovation” is an understatement. Indeed, it will be a sparkling new library, continuing to serve its patrons around the clock and remotely from the Penrose website (www.library.du.edu), allowing access to databases, journals, and materials online, at the library itself or from the comfort of a residence hall, for example. As expected, the library will have stacks and stacks of books, a section for browsing magazines and newspapers, archives and special collections, and librarians providing assistance. Study rooms will accommodate individuals, small groups and large groups, whether they seek deep quiet or the opportunity for dialog and team work. Treasures from the Penrose collections will be displayed in vast exhibit space, and the DU community will engage around enlightening performances at the library’s event venue.
Think of the Academic Commons as more than a building. Remember the instructors, the expertise, and the programs available there. Anchored by Penrose Library’s traditional collections and services, the Academic Commons also will be the central campus location for key high-volume educational support services. On the main floor, beyond the patio and café, collaborative programming will benefit students who take advantage of guidance in research, writing, math, and technology. Faculty, too, will have a place to hone their skills, learning methods to improve their teaching and ways to incorporate technology into their courses. Over time, the business of educating, and the process of learning have changed, requiring interaction and collaboration among and between students, staff and faculty. The Academic Commons is a physical space designed to promote creative adventure and intellectual synergy.
Conveniently located under one roof, the deep and complex intertwining of the library with essential academic support is what will make the DU student experience transformational. Penrose librarians will continue the important work of helping students find and apply useful, relevant information. Meanwhile a variety of stakeholders in the Academic Commons will help students manage information, move through the continuum of inquiry to expression, be stronger quantitative thinkers, navigate the use of technology for the expression of ideas, and satisfy their curiosity for a lifetime of learning. At the University of Denver, that’s what Academic Commons means.