18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Collaborative learning spaces: repurposing of the UCT Libraries Learning Lounge

Collaborative learning spaces: repurposing of the UCT Libraries Library Learning Lounge (+video clip)

Theresa Schoeman, Nuroo Davids

Academic libraries are changing due to technology and shifting pedagogy needs of the University community (Raju 2016). Literature indicates that academic libraries need to adapt to meet the changing needs and activities of their users; moving away from the warehouse of books syndrome.  Academic libraries therefore, should provide flexible and interactive spaces (Sullivan 2010). Assigned library spaces should be adaptable to meet user needs by providing comfortable moveable furnishings and include the latest technology infrastructure resources to develop and encourage collaborative learning initiatives.

The mission of UCT Libraries is to provide the best academic information services in support of the University of Cape Town’s institutional goals and strategies. The Libraries’ purpose and objectives are to align with these strategic areas. To fulfil three of these objectives, UCT Libraries established a partnership in 2016 with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking at the University of Cape Town (d.school). The d.school wanted a UCT upper campus presence to introduce ‘design thinking’ and a partnership would be beneficial to both entities.

UCT Libraries’ Library Learning Lounge (LLL) opened in February 2015, a new concept and an extension of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library. The initial aim of the area was to promote a virtual and co-operative learning space for all students and staff a “bring-your-own-device” space. The LLL was therefore considered to be a suitable positioned space for collaborative learning due to its location and aim.

The d.school expounds the principle of ‘design thinking’ as a change of mindset that enables innovation and new outcomes. Design thinking and collaborative learning spaces are latest trends on the horizon, with academic libraries utilising and embracing these new initiatives. This case study therefore presents “an evaluation of a collaborative learning space, implementing design thinking and the response of the UCT user community”. To investigate this initiative, quantitative and qualitative research methods were used including observation of the space and users, proactive marketing, a comment book and usage statistics.

The investigation has revealed that UCT Libraries has not modernised enough as a learning society to exploit collaborative learning, services and infrastructures. As collaborative learning becomes more mainstreamed it is hoped that the university community will have a greater response to creative spaces in an academic library.