Digital Learning Commons Provides New Space for High-Tech Collaboration at Rutgers’ Alexander Library

Most of those students were seated in the sprawling computer lab, which has 70 university-owned machines and empty spaces for students to bring their own. A few other lab users were standing, taking advantage of the computer lab’s adjustable desks, which rise to height with the push of a button.

“Standing desks are very cool,” said Nicole Au, a senior who worked with a friend to polish her resume. “Really, the whole space is well designed. The light is great and it’s handy to have all the little rooms and nooks around the edge of the main space. It is very functional.

Movable partitions allow students to create semi-private meeting spaces in almost any part of the room. Wi-Fi printing makes it easy to print from any part of the facility. Mobile whiteboards provide a low-tech way to share ideas, while video monitors in all meeting rooms provide a high-tech way to share ideas.

The entire facility was designed in consultation with the Office of Disability Services to be accessible to the widest possible range of users. Indeed, one of the advantages of height adjustable desks is that they can easily accommodate people in wheelchairs.

Another emphasis on design was to combine cutting edge technology with ease of use, and one-button studios is a good illustration of the principle. They allow users to record high quality presentations without worrying about the intricacies of audio setup or lighting. Users walk in, literally press a single button, give a presentation, and get a perfectly lit, recorded electronic copy.

The DLC is the product of a collaboration between Rutgers University Libraries, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Disability Services, Rutgers Institutional Planning and Operations, and the New Brunswick Chancellor’s Office.

“This collaboration has been very effective,” said Frank Reda, associate vice president and deputy chief information officer. “All of the groups contributed their expertise, and the result is a superior facility for our students.”

The Digital learning communities is on the ground floor of the Alexander Library, 169 College Avenue, New Brunswick.

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