Plans for Research Commons Revealed in Task Force Report
Plans are taking shape to introduce a host of services to support faculty and
upper-level researchers in a space in McKeldin Library to be known as a
A University Libraries task-force report outlining
the vision for such a space identifies needs and steps to advance this priority
project, which will also include a hefty web presence that centralizes access to
new services and partnerships.
In an environment where new technologies,
new pedagogies, new publishing models for scholarship and new learning
environments are changing daily, the report says, librarians are working to
address the changing needs of the academic community.
administrators point to the swift emergence of MOOCs, or massive open online
courses, as one example of evidence for the need to provide different kinds of
spaces and services to support faculty.
“We have long supported faculty
and graduate students by providing resources and services to meet their research
and teaching goals,” says Patricia Steele, dean of the University Libraries.
“Increasingly we do this by being on the forefront of technology and trends. Our
goal is not only to anticipate needs, but also to lead change. The concept of a
research commons accomplishes just that.”
A benefit of a research commons
will be its central offering of core services, or “one-stop shopping,” that will
include, for example, support for managing and preserving data, developing
research proposals, publishing scholarship, understanding copyright issues, and
Based in part on survey findings of university students and
faculty, the report also reveals a strong desire among faculty for bibliographic
management support, or assistance with software that can help organize and
leverage research citations. Such support will be integrated into ramped-up
services independent of a defined physical space.
A research commons in
McKeldin Library will be phased in over several years, with a goal to provide
flexible space that is adaptable over time. Carving out space in McKeldin
Library will first require shifting some materials there to other spaces within
the library and also relocating other, lesser-used materials to Severn Library,
a university-owned facility on the edge of campus that is expected to open in
Among the first steps in realizing a research commons will be to
aggregate existing services through a website, creating a “virtual commons,” and
add complementary services as they are developed.
The Terrapin Learning
Commons, or TLC, opened in 2011 primarily to support the needs of undergraduate
students, a group with far different needs than those of high-level researchers.
Open all night much of the year, it is also consistently the highest-used space
in McKeldin Library.
“The TLC is filled with computers, lots of movable
furniture, and rooms for students to meet with their groups,” says Gary White,
associate dean for public services. “We expect a research commons will also
provide popular services and a sense of community—just probably not at 2 in the