At the June 18th meeting, Dr. Vee Herrington spoke to the Library Club about the development of the (formerly New Community College). It was particularly interesting because we were meeting in that space, and had an opportunity to experience it.
Dr. Herrington explained that because Guttman is an experimental school, she was brought in to develop a non-traditional library that would effectively serve its students and faculty. The Information Commons acts not only as a library (offering traditional reference and circulation services) but also as a student union, classroom, tutoring space, lunch room, and a space for creating multimedia group presentations (called “mediascapes”). Students easily accept the Information Commons as another classroom space, because all classrooms are equipped similarly to that space, with moveable furniture, wifi, and smartboards. Print books are provided with a small on-campus collection that is supplemented by other CUNY schools and NYPL. The Information Commons’s focus is on information literacy, rather than print collections; the students primarily use electronic resources for their research needs.
It was exciting to hear that all 300 students use the commons, which is open from 6am to 10pm. Students use the commons more than they use the computer lab or lounge. In fact, Dr. Herrington said it’s often crowded at 6:30am with students finishing homework while eating breakfast!
Guttman’s experimental learning model is exciting, with a librarian included as part of every instruction team. These teams include a faculty member, librarian, counselors (called student success advocates), and graduate coordinators (who help teach students skills like how to study effectively). It was exciting to learn about Guttman’s “unlibrary” (as Dr. Herrington called it) and its experimental instructional model. Hooray for an institution including librarians in its instruction teams!
Starr Hoffman, PhD