18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Re-designing library spaces to meet the needs of millennials: The balance between socializing and collaborative learning in the North-West University (NWU) Information Commons

Re-designing library spaces to meet the needs of millennials: The balance between socializing and collaborative learning in the North-West University (NWU) Information Commons

Dina Mokgadi Mashiyane

Libraries are being re-designed to accommodate the changing needs of the users. Information and Communication Technologies are changing the library landscape and thereby re-envisioning the role of librarians. Teaching and learning pedagogical approaches are also impacting on libraries as users need spaces where they can access information in various formats and work collaboratively on projects. This also breeds the behaviour of innovativeness and knowledge sharing. The NWU library (Potchefstroom Campus) has reconfigured its physical spaces and redesigned the services by developing the Information Commons. Gone is the clichéd saying/statement that “silence is golden”, especially in libraries seeing that libraries have been managing noise levels and reinforcing silence to ensure a conducive study environment. Libraries have been characterized by the element of quietness, but this has changed due to libraries being spaces which aim to facilitate social learning and have created spaces that are an extension of a classroom with ICT tools. According to Constable (2007:3) a librarian is often associated with the behaviour of shushing library visitors, putting an index finger to the lips, or pointing to the sign that says “silence”. The information commons provides a shared environment that enhances social learning. Maintaining the balance between collaborating and socializing becomes a bit challenging to the users. The information common is not an ideal quiet study space, however communication has to be for academic purposes and not socialization which ends up disrupting other users and eliminating a conducive environment that enhances academic productiveness.