HBLL caters to groups, creates ‘satellite commons’

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    By Greg DeLong

    Students who have frequented the library recently may have heard the phrase ?satellite commons? and wondered about its meaning.

    Here is a clue ? it has nothing to do with expensive chunks of metal orbiting the earth at 20,000 mph.

    It has everything to do, though, with extending the services already available in the information commons to other areas of the Harold B. Lee Library.

    The satellite commons, more commonly referred to as collaborative workstations, were created to accommodate the growing number of students doing group projects, said Jeff Belliston, department chair of the library?s general information services.

    ?It fulfills primarily a demand,? Belliston said. ?There are so many people wanting to use the information commons, we regularly have lines of people.?

    There are currently two satellite commons in operation ? one in periodicals on the second floor and another in social sciences on the first floor.

    The library has plans to place additional workstations in the science and management economics areas, said Michael Whitchurch, information commons section head.

    ?We?re putting more computers out, in this case in a different arrangement, that caters to a different style of learning here on campus,? Whitchurch said.

    The same resources available in the information commons are also available at the collaborative workstations. The main difference is that the workstations do not have the multimedia computers used for creating video and audio projects, Whitchurch said.

    One area of concern for the new commons is the noise generated by students. While the information commons are clearly labeled as no shhh zones, the satellite commons are not, Whitchurch said. But the idea of a collaborative workstation is to encourage group work. To solve the problem, library administration and staff are working on a policy to decide what can be done, he said.

    The idea for an information commons came about two years ago when members of the library administration visited universities across the country and saw similar programs, Belliston said. Other universities with information commons include the University of Phoenix, the University of Southern California and the University of Minnesota.

    The convenience of use and the resources available make the information and satellite commons popular among students of all disciplines, Belliston said.

    Kristen Davidson, a senior, majoring in public relations, from Salinas, Calif., enjoys the freedom to speak loudly while doing group projects in the commons.

    ?I like the commons because it?s a no shhh zone,? Davidson said. ?Nobody can tell you to be quiet, you can throw out ideas and you can brainstorm as loud as you need to be and it?s totally fine.?

    The commons are open during normal library hours and students can reserve a computer in either commons for a two-hour block.

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