If you were to walk inside the construction zone in the Academic Commons building project, you would see the “perched classroom” taking shape. When completed, this research instruction and meeting space will appear to float in the atrium, and DU students and faculty will conduct important work here. Visible from the main and upper floors of the Academic Commons, this dramatic room with a curved wall of windows invites observation of the research instruction taking place inside, while facing out to the vast resources of Penrose Library.
Thanks to the internet, those of us with access are blessed with information. But sometimes the amount of information can be overwhelming, a burden. To those who think someday librarians won’t be necessary because of the internet, we’d like to point out it is precisely because of the surfeit of information that librarians are vital. No one manages to digest all of the information available, so we need librarians to help us make sense of it all.
At Penrose, our reference librarians work closely with DU faculty and students. Each major academic division has its own Penrose faculty librarian specializing in that discipline, responsible for teaching research skills relevant to that field of study. Faculty may request for their students a library workshop that emphasizes the integration of research skills into course topics. Librarians tailor sessions to the group (for example, first year writing students or graduate students in art history) by drawing on appropriate databases from the more than 600 available through Penrose.
Whether we say this is all about critical thinking, research skills, or the contemporary term “information literacy,” Penrose librarians teach every student how to be an expert information manager. As the American Library Association says, “Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.”
In the perched classroom of the Academic Commons at Penrose Library, equipped with projectors, and state of the art teaching technology such as video walls, this library teaching and learning space is appropriately positioned high in the center of the building, since student success starts with the ability to find, use, manage, and apply documentation of current and past generations of scholars and writers. Librarians will bring thousands of DU students into this space every year, exposing them to the light streaming from the surrounding windows, and to the brilliance of knowledge discovery. In 2010-2011 in the original Penrose Library facility, 5,080 DU students participated in research workshops. We expect many more to engage in such programs at the Academic Commons.
The reference librarians at Penrose Library also offer many different instructional workshops, guides, and tutorials to help the DU community learn about library research. Click here for the current Penrose Library instruction schedule.