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Vol. XVI, no. 1 TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition November 2003
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Information Commons

The Mary Couts Burnett Library and the Campus Computing Help Desk have joined together to offer “one-stop” service to the TCU community, through an Information Commons. The reconfigured Reference Room and Library Computer Lab now adds walk-in and phone support for the Computing Help Desk, formerly in the Sid Richardson Building, to ongoing Reference service within the Library. TCU’s Information Commons includes Reference Librarians who specialize in assisting faculty and students with the information content and Information Services Consultants who specialize in assisting faculty and students with technology.

The reason for the Information Commons reflects the overlapping world of information that brings together both information technology and information content. IS Staff have expertise with information technology and Library staff have expertise with information content. Since a lot of library material exists in electronic formats, use of library databases and electronic journals frequently involve computer passwords, campus computing accounts, and access to the Internet. Having Computing Help Desk staff located within the Reference department, and having both Reference and Computing expertise available on weekends and until 1 a.m. most evenings, provides an exceptionally strong level of support for the TCU community. Beside these two departments, TCU’s Writing Center schedules office hours at the Information Commons.

The Information Commons includes more than 100 computers (Mac and PC) and 20 laptops. Both the Information Commons and the rest of the Library building benefit from a wireless network. Students either bring their own laptop computers or use laptop computers available for temporary loan from the Information Commons. When students use the wireless network, their opportunities to complete assignments using a computer extend throughout the building.

A recently completed Information Commons Survey identified numerous areas for service enhancement. Multiple task forces are in the process of exploring service initiatives. New services under consideration include collaborative computing facilities for student teams, facilities for faculty to make private appointments with IC staff, the creation of a Knowledge Base, updated web pages for the Information Commons, and other administrative improvements. The Information Commons Steering Committee will review these recommendations and offer selected new services and facilities during spring semester. The IC Steering Committee Working Group is chaired by June Koelker, Associate University Librarian and includes Kim Weber and Matt Hinze from Information Services, and Marianne Bobich from the Library.

 

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