Establishing Library Learning Commons in Universities of India: A Case Study of BHU Library System.

Author:Singh, Punit Kumar
Position:Banaras Hindu University - Case study
  1. Introduction

    Libraries have long recognition as a space where books, periodicals, and other reading materials are placed to read and borrow i.e. library as a space, the physical location, the building. Whereas, the books contained in a library are the great mass of learning or knowledge i.e. library as a collection. Similarly, library has the agglomeration of librarian, staffs and the tools to procure, arrange, curate, and retrieve the resources i.e. library as a scribe. Hence, a traditional library has recognition as a physical space, as a physical collection, and as a traditional scribe. The paradigm shift due to the advent of computer technology, information technology (IT) and information communication technology (ICT) has changed the way of information seeking, reading habits, learning methods, and even social connectivity and interactions of the society. These transformations in the society laid the libraries to adopt new collections, services, tools and techniques, and more skilled staffs. Libraries are forced to change his traditional look and become modern in order to change in the society. Further, Roberts (2009) states that "the trend in academic libraries to combine digital library services along with traditional library services are evolving. This evolution is due to changes in technology and changes in perception about information use and knowledge creation" (Roberts, 2009). Thus, the modern libraries require physical as well as virtual space, physical as well as online collection, and skilled librarian, skilled staff, and advanced tools and techniques.

    Sinclair (2007) believed that students having social software, spaces and instructions are the presenting themselves in a global community, skilled in written and visual communication and critical thinking (Sinclair, 2007). The reading habits, information needs and information seeking behavior of students and faculty members at present are influenced and changed due to the adoption of latest IT, ICT, social media tools for study and research work (Sheikh, 2015). These changes greatly affected the higher education's teaching methods as well as the academic libraries. It has forced academic libraries to redesign their existing services, resources, and physical spaces with the addition of digital services, digital resources, and virtual spaces. All these tend to transform service delivery models and to reshape of reading areas according to the learning and reading habits of the users, especially digital native and net generation users. The Learning Commons (LC) is one of the new services which came into existence due to these transformations. Library Learning Commons (LLCs) are collaborative learning spaces in libraries for both students and faculties which provide a convenient, comfortable, flexible and productive environment for learning, reading and research work (Karasic, 2016). The purpose of this article is to provide a perspective on informal learning commons developed in BHU Library System and to find the feasibilities to acquire new techniques and services to cope with the continuous paradigm shift towards the digital environment.

  2. Learning Commons: Literature Review

    The related literature search on Library Learning Commons or Learning Commons in Libraries results with the prevalence of two parallel terms "Information Commons" and "Learning Commons". The analysis of recent literature on both topics is done in order to get insight into the conceptual difference between them.

    The conceptualization of "Information Commons" (IC) is the brainchild of Donald Beagle of University of North Carolina who has first used the term in 1999 in two parallel levels viz. physical level as well as virtual level. At physical level the term is used to denote a new type of physical facilities specially designed to organize workspace and the service delivery while at virtual level it is meant to the widest possible variety of digital services can be accessed via a single graphical user interface (GUI) and potentially searched in parallel via a single search engine from any networked workstation (Beagle, 1999). In addition, Cowgill et al. (2001) defined IC as "a specific location designated to deliver electronic resources for research and production that is maintained by technically proficient staff" and emphasized on the proficiency of staff in handling of e-resources and digital services to ensure best resources to the right user. Similarly, MacWhinnie (2003) described IC as "a model of integrated technology and information resources, a transition of library resources, facilities and services with the purpose of providing the best resources and the best services for users with the shifting emphasis from ownership of information to access to and management of information". Further, he cleared IC as a centrally located space with a combination of reference services and information technology in which computer workstations are arranged with help desk and print reference sources to provide access to online catalog, internet, online databases and productivity software to prepare assignments, technical help and research assistance (Macwhinnie, 2003). While, Singh and Singh...

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