Information Commons with Stacey Greenwell

First session at the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College. Stacey is Head of Information Commons (the Hub) at the University of Kentucky. Her interview with Michael Stephens on ALA TechSource in September 2008 is a good introduction to the concept. Stacey also has a blog, The Uncommon Commons.

The basic concept is that libraries combine the traditional reference service with IT technical support at the same location within the library. Stacey is a leading voice in this model. Her talk focuses on applying it in other libraries. She came from public libraries.

What is it?

1999 – Coined by librarian Walter?

Learning Commons is viewed as more specialized version of Information Commons but she thinks they are synonymous.

Well equipped with tech supplies and supported by librarians and technologists. Has scanners, plotters, etc. but must also have staff to support. Not just glorified computer lab.  Even can have fun and parties there.

Why have one?

  • Draws students (some libs have 80%? of students in building)
  • Encourage active learning (group projects)
  • Expand available technology (more partnerships with other departments)
  • Just in time IT suppport (passwords)
  • Computer management uniformity
  • Expand infrastructure (cell phone access – repeater on top of building) 

Planning and Lessons Learned

  • Timing was right – goal to be top 20 research, mandated by State Leg.
  • Talked to other inst. Obtained funding, produced whitepaper
  • Working Group formed
    • (all campus groups, architect, interior designer. student group)
  • Field work
    • met with students, faculty, Facebook group

How they got the name – “The Hub”

Met with students to see what they would call it.  Also found out what students currently called the library, Willy T’s.

Actual location was centrally located in the building.

Better marketing of the service. Didn’t like “Commons”.

Library Help

Hours – 1-10pm

Students wanted more

IT help

 Passwords, Laptop, Wireless

Took some struggle for them to be involved

At first they weren’t doing much, but had them answer the phones.

Became distributed help desk throughout campus.

Mac Lab

IT has student consultants to help with this

Power bar – Phone chargers, adapters

Student Computer Lab

Regular meetings between staff

AV Services

Check out Laptops – not everyone has them contrary to popular assumption.


Herman Miller – Brand

Canopy Work Island – has white plastic above

Caper chair – good 15 year warranty

Tall Tables for open access – ADA compliance

Lounge chairs – comfortable but would be better if they would roll.

Whiteboards – Most popular item.  Do serious and fun things on them. (she takes pictures of them to share on Flickr)

Markers run out and have to be replaced (significant expense)

Food and Beverage

Demand was high for this service.

Fewer spills because people are more honest when spills happen.

Use vending machines – wanted Starbucks but were denied.

Video Windows

Ceiling mounted Video windows

Can play video games, show video

Creatives exhibits – Mustaches of the 1900’s (highlights special collections) – appeared on Boing Boing.

White Board Signs

Flat Panel Displays – wishes she hadn’t gotten them. Not looked at


Floor sign is really popular. Projector enabled by wireless card.  Private network of laptop connected to projector.

Special Events

Hubbub Party – 800 students attended!

Prize drawing – but doesn’t want to do it again. Takes a lot of time. Kids enjoyed but she didn’t

Pizza – bought 100, long line

Pop a shot basket ball rental – kids loved but broke it.

Balloon Animals – they loved it (200 bucks) she would definitely do it again.

Video games on projectors

Guitar Hero was set up even at Dell’s Campus.

Tarot Card Reading

Makeovers – Approached business and said that it could be a good marketing opportunity

Photo booth

plastic green cloth, batch of props, camera, release form, Photoshop

Halloween hand out candy – show kids they care


Library Stats database from University of Wisconsin

Can be dowloaded at Google Open Source Area

Used stats from here to get more Wireless Access. Kept sending problem reports to CIO.

Door Counts


Press releases

Students wrote one up unsolicited in a Newsletter.

Promotional video


One thought on “Information Commons with Stacey Greenwell

  1. Pingback: Posts about Boing Boing as of March 18, 2009 » The Daily Parr

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