Bradford Eden

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Book Chapter/Section

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Enhancing Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Academic Library: Successful Innovations That Make a Difference



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The new academic library is a dynamic space where users and unique resources come together to produce new ideas. Libraries have struggled to be relevant spaces that attract students yet are more than simple study halls. The library as a connective space is one solution. This idea is not just about providing study space or collections space or even their juxtaposition, but about coming up with innovative ways to harness their proximity. The library wanted to develop spaces that foster both intentional and informal learning and are grounded in strong disciplinary identities for the sciences and the arts. At the University of Colorado Boulder we used service learning in a student collaboration model to generate novel approaches to library spaces. Two parallel areas of the library, the Science Commons and the Arts Commons, were reinvented to showcase the digital and analog library resources that inform their respective subjects. In this project, the library particularly hoped to harness the synergy between science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and art and design (which, when combined with STEM is known as STEAM) to develop spaces that promote an atmosphere of creativity. The Science Commons highlights the digital collections and the research and innovation they support; while the Arts Commons exposes the aesthetics of the library's print collection and the artwork it inspires. Both rely on student involvement and a commitment to the new library as a connective space that by connecting users to the library’s resources will facilitate informal learning activities: discovery, exploration, and self-directed research.