An Academic Commons in Clapp Library


Project Proposal:

Conversations begun during our Spring 2012 symposium on Liberal Arts Learning in the Digital Age, and the space planning discussions fostered through the Wellesley 2025 process have provided us with an opportunity to consider how instruction, scholarship, and support continue to evolve at Wellesley. How will our library spaces evolve to meet these ever-changing needs? Would greater contributions to the academic success of our students be possible through a newly integrated set of services and resources, brought together in Clapp Library? What would an "Academic Commons", situated in the heart of a student support “neighborhood” (that includes a renovated Schneider, Billings, and Chapel) include?


Under Investigation <Spring 2013>: 

The ACLTP and potential partner representatives will develop a deeper and more detailed understanding of the Academic Commons concept and requirements for Wellesley. We will direct an open process that engages campus­wide partners, governance groups, and the campus community through open conversations, digital feedback and investigations of existing/planned facilities at other exemplar institutions. Based on community input as well as the opportunities presented through the Wellesley 2025 initiative, we will propose the ideal set of academic support services for a Wellesley Academic Commons, opportunities for service integration among these services and the best use of Clapp Library space to serve academic support needs. 


Update <Fall 2013>:

An investigative team including representatives from LTS, Facilities, the Writing Program, the Quantitative Reasoning Program, and the PLTC conducted an evaluation of the range of "Commons" models at other campuses. This evaluation included site visits and phone calls to 22 colleges and universities in which a standard set of questions was asked in addition to site specific questions. The institutions we spoke with included peer liberal arts colleges and large universities; schools with existing commons, new commons and planned commons of various types; and schools building new libraries with no commons elements. We also spoke with schools building specialty spaces, like makerspaces and advanced media labs, which may be spaces of interest in Clapp.

Following our "visits" the team looked at opportunities unique to Wellesley including the existence of our student support "neighborhood", the past and continuing evolution of Clapp Library to include new kinds of spaces (such as the Knapp Media & Technology Center), academic support services (the PLTC), and support models (such as our merged research and instructional support desk/team). The team recommended the continued evolution of Clapp to include additional academic support services (the Writing and QR programs), experimental classroom space, a makerspace, reconfigured student work spaces, and a cafe. 


Update<Fall 2014>:

The College engaged Monica Ponce de Leon, of MPdL Studio, to conduct a space study of Clapp Library focused on the use of identified "underutilized" spaces in the building for the purposes recommended by the Fall 2013 Academic Commons investigation team. Monica engaged faculty, staff and students in discussion about their needs and their ideas for the use and configuration of the Clapp Library space on three day-long visits to campus. Following these visits, a space study was provided to the College which satisfied the investigative team's original goals, met the requirements identified by the faculty, staff and students, and made efficient (and effective) use of Clapp's underutilized spaces while leaving the print collection in place.


Project Sponsors: Writing Program, Quantitative Reasoning Program, PLTC, LTS, Facilities

LTS Contact: Heather Woods