IOWA CITY — The new Learning Commons at the University of Iowa Main Library is under construction, and it’s space officials say will offer students flexible and comfortable study areas, an academic help center and an expanded cafe and coffee shop.
The 37,000-square foot Learning Commons on the first floor of the Main Library will have 18 group-study spaces, 100 desktop and laptop computers, numerous multimedia resources and a 45-seat Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage classroom with glass walls and sliding doors, officials said.
The $14.5 million project is expected to be done in the fall 2013 semester.
“It really will add student space, but the main thing is it’s going to enhance quality of the space and create a lot of what we don’t have right now in the Main Library, which is group study space, collaborative space,” Librarian Nancy Baker said.
The exciting thing about the Learning Commons is the addition of flexible student space in the heart of campus, said Beth Ingram, associate provost for undergraduate education.
“It’s on a corridor that runs from the wellness center down to the student union on campus,” she said. “It’s more than study space, it’s sort of creative space.”
The Learning Commons was designed to offer different types of student study, work and lounge spaces, Ingram said. Those plans were developed using a lot of student input, she said.
“I think the No. 1 thing they were looking for is more study space on campus and more flexible space,” Ingram said.
The project also brings more light into the library, which right now is “sort of dark” with low ceilings, she said.
“We’re just trying to make it a better place for students,” Ingram said.
The Learning Commons project is a partnership of Information Technology Services, University Libraries and the provost’s office.
Incorporating technology and wireless also was key, Baker said.
“We’ve generally handled technology as best as we can in a 1950s building, so this is gonna be particularly nice,” she said.
The library’s south entrance has been closed for the length of the construction project, which also will add an east entrance to the building.
Where the Learning Commons is being constructed was mainly office and staff space, and those offices were moved to the building’s fifth floor. Workers are trying to do some of the “noisier” work while students are away on Thanksgiving break and again at winter break, Baker said.