Q: What is a learning commons?

A: A learning commons, also known as an information commons or a digital commons is a learning and collaborative space. The Bishop’s Learning Commons will bring together new and existing services under one roof to better serve our students, faculty and staff. Our Learning commons will include the Library, the Writing Centre, the Student Success Centre, the Teaching and Learning Centre, ITS Helpdesk, and a café!

Q: Who designed the learning commons?

A: The design for the Learning Commons was conceived by Éric Pelletier and associates at Lemay Architects.  Developed out of direct consultation with employees and user groups of the John Bassett Memorial Library, it reimagines the spaces of the building as a tree of knowledge with roots in the traditions of the university, a common trunk where the community might gather and a series of branches extending from that trunk – optimally flexible and capable of accommodating diverse activities.

Q: What are the sources of funding for this project?

A: The Bishop’s University Learning Commons Project is a $17,000,000 renovation funded by the Provincial and Federal Governments, Bishop’s students and the Bishop’s University Capital Campaign.

Q: Who can use the Learning Commons?

A: The Learning Commons will welcome current students, faculty and staff as well as alumni and community members.

Q: With all these new services will there still be room for the students to study?

A: Yes. There will be approximately double the number of seats in the new learning commons as what was available previously in the John Bassett Memorial Library. There will be a mix of collaborative spaces as well as spaces for solo study or quiet contemplation.

Q: When will the transformation be completed?

A: Construction is scheduled to be completed by July 2018 at which point all the services and equipment will be moved in for an expected opening date of September 2018.

Q: Is there a contingency plan should the project fall behind schedule?

A: The Library has been operating in a temporary space beside the Sports Complex and the Writing Centre has been operating in MacKinnon. The project is on schedule but should something unforeseen come up both of these services (the Library and the Writing Centre) shall remain open and available elsewhere on campus.

Q: Will there be a computer lab in the building?

A: There will be two areas in the Learning Commons, one in the basement and one on the upper level, which will each have 25-35 computers contained in a common section. They will not be labs per se, but open stations and tables with computers. They will also have photocopiers for printing and scanning close by.

Q: What kinds of new technology can we expect to see in the Learning Commons?

A: The Learning Commons is being built with many new technologies to support current and future student & faculty needs. Some of the highlights include: a sound-proofed video production studio with cameras, lighting, green screens, etc.; three high-end video editing suites for users to be able to edit their projects; many team rooms or “fishbowls” equipped with large screens, computers and cameras to work on projects, video chat, etc.; a Maple League seminar room for HD video conferencing with the other Maple League schools to allow students to take part in classes from the other institutions.

Q: Given all the new technology will there be support for users needing assistance?

A: Yes, in fact the ITS Helpdesk (currently located in Johnson 107) will be moving to the Learning Commons and will be located to the left of the Circulation Desk on the ground floor. Whenever the Learning Commons is open, the student and staff employees of ITS will be there to assist all of the users with their technical needs.

Q: Will there be lots of plugs to connect our devices?

A: Yes, every space in the Learning Commons has been designed to allow you to use and charge all of your devices.

Q: Will we be able to connect our devices to the systems in the classrooms and “fishbowls”?

A: Yes!  Bishop’s now uses Mirroring360 in all of our classrooms and meeting spaces, which allows users to wirelessly connect iOS & Android devices, and any laptop running the Chrome browser. This software will also be installed on every screen in the Learning Commons allowing for easy screen sharing and collaboration.

Q: Who should I contact if I have a question about the project?

A: Please address any questions or comments to:

Dr. James Crooks
Director, Bishop’s Learning Commons Project

Gary McCormick
Interim University Librarian

Lorraine Smith
Interim University Librarian