The Academic Commons at Penrose Library is the official name of our new facility and it is scheduled to open to the DU community at the start of spring quarter 2013. The building project should finish by the end of January, and then we will move 40,000 linear feet of books, hundreds of computers, and furniture, and prepare the library cafe for opening.
The name Academic Commons refers to the fact that much more than traditional library services will be available here. Free academic support services will be provided in writing, math, research, computers/technology (both hardware and software), and digital media. Digital media is a completely new service to DU students, and will include equipment and staff assistance for students who are incorporating digital media in their academic and extracurricular work. Another support service, the Office of Teaching and Learning, is for faculty to help them incorporate technology and the latest teaching methods into their courses.
There will be lots of Books in the Academic Commons. On the main level, a book display will feature the most recent six months of new acquisitions. On the lower level will be nearly all of the books from the Penrose collection that were published in the most recent 30 years, and most of the books that have been checked out at least twice (ever), and the books that have a high density of visual images, for example art, cartography, and archaeology. All Penrose materials that do not fall within these criteria will be available from off-site storage and delivered to campus in 2 hours or less from the time the request for materials is made.
This project was the result of many years of research, and in response to developments in technology, and reacting to changes in how teachers teach and how students learn. The new facility incorporates suggestions made over a decade by DU students and faculty about what they wanted in their library, including a variety of types of study spaces. In addition to academic support services, the Academic Commons will have small and large group study rooms that are equipped with the latest technology. There will be deep-quiet study rooms, a family study room for students with children, a special event space, abundant natural light from new, additional windows and the Hamilton Atrium, and the Front Porch Cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Academic Commons is designed to accommodate the new ways faculty teach and the new ways students learn, which is different from the prevalent educational methods of 1972 when the original Penrose Library was built. Now students and faculty collaborate, and students do group projects, and technology has changed everything.
Finally, the library is not paid for with student tuition. DU student tuition does not even cover the cost to educate students. Funds for the Academic Commons building project come mostly from gifts from alumni, parents and friends of DU. To all of them, we say thank you!