The Innovative Learning Resource Center:
A Library-centric View
It is our vision that the Innovative Learning Resource Center (ILRC) is defined by five
concepts – support for the teaching and learning mission of the Institute, collaboration /
convergence, state-of-the-art technology, research / knowledge management and access.
While the focus is on supporting and enhancing the undergraduate academic experience,
we envision that faculty and staff will converge with students to utilize the ILRC in both
formal and informal activities. Its great appeal is that it is always staffed and available to
customers, both in-person and remote.
We envision that the ILRC serves the Georgia Tech community regardless of School or
College affiliation. The units occupying this space are here because of their broadly
defined mission to serve the education and research goals of Georgia Tech. It is also our
expectation that the space is inviting, providing services such as a café, along with
display spaces for campus research projects and Georgia Tech history, thus making it a
preferred destination in the heart of campus.
In our vision, the Library’s information, reference and technology support services
consolidate and move to the ILRC as part of an overall renovation and reconfiguration of
the existing Library complex. This portion of the ILRC is referred to as the “Information
Nexus.” The Information Nexus provides a convergence of information resources,
technology and expert advice to empower users to acquire, evaluate and manipulate
information relevant to their needs. This service point is easy to find, open long hours
and always well-staffed. Staffing the consolidated information / technology service
points are personnel with both knowledge management and technological expertise to
guide the user through all stages of project research and presentation. Students get off to
a better start with information and technology assistance. Students and faculty, both in-
person and remote, come to rely on a centralized service point for their information needs
related to class work, research and group assignments, and any level of technical
Support for Georgia Tech’s teaching / learning mission
Expectation: State-of-the-art space is available for teaching / learning by both
students and faculty. Librarians partner with faculty to teach information literacy
in these spaces.
Outcome: Experimentation with teaching and learning occurs. Faculty applying
innovative approaches to pedagogy are encouraged to use these spaces. Their
successes are showcased and emulated by other Tech faculty. Innovation is
celebrated and shared.
Expectation: A primary emphasis of the ILRC is to provide the services and
facilities necessary to support and enhance the undergraduate academic
Outcome: The ILRC serves the Institute’s goal of increased undergraduate
student retention by providing the necessary tools for academic and research
Expectation: The ILRC, in collaboration with other campus departments, plays
an instrumental role in serving the Institute’s remote user groups.
Outcome: A full array of information resources and services, research assistance,
and technological support is provided to students and faculty in Distance
Learning, GTREP and Georgia Tech Lorraine programs.
Collaboration / convergence
Expectation: OIT personnel collaborate with Library staff to provide expert
advice on individuals’ advanced technology needs.
Outcome: Library and OIT staff, working side-by-side, are well positioned to
offer students and faculty all levels of technical assistance. The close proximity
of these units creates a dynamic environment in which each learns from and
reinforces the work of the other.
Expectation: The space is occupied by campus units that support the education
and research mission of the Institute. Logical partners include CETL, the Library
and OIT Customer Support and Educational Technology.
Outcome: While each of these units has a distinct mission, a complementary
component of each is to support the education and / or research mission of the
Institute. Locating these units in a common space provides opportunities to
introduce information literacy components into the curriculum.
Expectation: Provide appropriate space and technology for students to
collaborate on class projects, research and group assignments. The spaces are
comfortable, flexible, and easily adapted by the groups that use them. The spaces
are always clean and in good working order.
Outcome: Provides students with excellent work spaces for group assignments;
prepares students for the corporate world, where work is performed in teams and
cross-functional groups, in comfortable spaces conducive to productivity.
Expectation: The space provides for faculty and students to meet one-on-one and
Outcome: Mentoring and advisement are improved without the interruptions and
space constraints characterized by meeting in faculty offices and “make do” sites.
This is useful for faculty whose offices are located on the edge of campus,
shortening the distance each party travels to meet.
Expectation: A café provides beverages and light refreshments.
Outcome: Individuals can be refreshed without leaving the ULC. The café adds
a warm dimension to the ULC and enhances the sense of community.
Expectation: The ILRC serves the needs of students and faculty at varying levels
of technological sophistication. Students utilize the space because it provides
essential support and software at every level.
Outcome: Users less familiar with digital resources, educational technology and
software will receive a solid foundation of support which contributes to their
success. More technologically savvy students and faculty are creatively
stimulated by the availability of advanced technology, software and assistance
available at the ILRC. The overwhelming question of where one turns for
informed technology assistance is greatly simplified by the ILRC model.
Expectation: The Information Nexus successfully integrates technology with
service assistance in a centralized location. Remote users are as easily served as
those on-site. The necessary resources are on hand for start-to-finish completion
of student assignments and group projects. Library staff will have the training
and expertise to answer many of these questions.
Outcome: Student productivity and learning are increased; time is saved; advice
is conveniently at hand without blind referral and travel across campus to get
answers to technical problems associated with finishing assignments.
Expectation: Staff and resources are available to support faculty in using
technology to enhance the student learning experience. CETL plays a major role
in this learning enhancement and will have the technical support of OIT and
Library staff to help implement these new technologies in the ILRC.
Outcome: Faculty are compelled to take advantage of the staff, equipment and
support in place to improve their effectiveness as knowledge providers and
teachers. Library staff gain an increased understanding of how technology is used
in the classroom, and this knowledge informs our own instructional endeavors.
Research / knowledge management
Expectation: The Library will, in effect, become the “scholar’s workstation” by
providing the resources necessary for scholarly research in digital format
whenever possible. Staff expertise imparts knowledge management skills to
support the undergraduate research process.
Outcome: Students effectively identify, access, synthesize and incorporate
information into their research endeavors. Information research skills imparted to
students promote the knowledge, teamwork, and critical thinking abilities that are
essential to success in the corporate/research world and provide a foundation for
Expectation: Library staff will utilize their expertise to organize, structure,
manage and provide access to Georgia Tech’s records, thesis/dissertations,
technical reports and other grey literature, making them accessible not only
campuswide but worldwide if appropriate.
Outcome: The Library expands its role in the scholarly communication process
from acquirer and archivist to that of publisher. Innovative research projects will
be captured, described and made available digitally.
Expectation: The ILRC provides flexible space where innovative and creative
research and projects are displayed.
Outcome: In the ILRC, departments showcase student and faculty achievements.
Exhibiting department research builds a sense of community and exposes
undergraduates to outside areas of study that may interest them.
Expectation: The ILRC is open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Outcome: With continuous availability, students are able to use the facilities
and obtain assistance with their work at whatever time is convenient for them.
The ILRC is well-positioned as the focal point of the campus.
Expectation: Adequate and efficient transportation is provided for students
to and from the ILRC.
Outcome: The convenience and safety of students is enhanced, and usage of
the ILRC is maximized.
Expectation: The Library and ILRC will be connected. A throughway into the
Library (Gilbert building) from the ILRC will be more frequently used than the
current entrance. The placement of materials, users spaces and service points will
be logical and efficient. Materials in the existing buildings must remain secure.
Outcome: The passageway between ILRC and Gilbert will require a security
checkpoint, just as security is provided at the current entrance / exit to Gilbert and
Crosland buildings. The notion of “open stacks” in the ILRC seems unlikely
given the presumed difficulty of preventing theft through its several points of
entrance / exit.
Preparing the way: service and structural modifications to facilitate the migration
to a new building
As the vision and program for the ILRC develops, Library staff should begin now to
assess services in the existing Gilbert and Crosland buildings. We suggest that
organization of services and collections should anticipate the emergence of the ILRC.
We should now begin to leverage our human and material resources to better meet the
dramatic changes in user needs and expectations.
In his article ‘Shaking the Conceptual Foundations,’ Ferguson states that
“. . . information service should be reconceived to include new partners in support of the
use of technology while undertaking substantially new approaches to on-site and
network-based information service.” We believe Ferguson is correct when he insists that
our emerging “generation of information service must not only advance the notion of
integrated information service both on-site and remote, but it also must . . .be supported
by an organization that enables librarians and technologists to work closely together in
designing systems, delivering services, allocating resources, and exploring new
1. Our several information service points (Reference, Technical Resources and
Government Information / Maps) will consolidate into a single information
service area before occupancy of the ILRC. Information points currently organized
around discrete collections of print, micro-format, current periodicals and government
information will evolve into a spectrum of services that complement the current and
evolving digital reality. Books, journals and other physical formats will continue to
be used, but will no longer dictate the way we organize our response to user needs. A
consolidation of information services in Crosland must occur in the time leading up to
occupation of the ILRC. When the ILRC is built, this single information point will
migrate there to become the Information Nexus. In both the near and long term,
information staff acquire technical and knowledge management expertise appropriate
for a digital world. Outreach to campus constituents is intensified.
2. A second customer contact point in the Crosland building will consolidate
several support services. This service point may combine units like document
delivery, copying services, access to micro-format materials and perhaps other
functions, into a merged enterprise. This support services group will remain in either
Crosland or Gilbert when the ILRC is occupied since the collections it serves will
remain in these buildings. Students and faculty benefit from this consolidation, and
fewer staff are required to provide coverage and user assistance.
3. At the time of the move into the ILRC, the Circulation department will likely
expand its role to include basic information services in addition to mainstream
circulation functions. Students and faculty in the Crosland and Gilbert buildings
will benefit from fewer service points. Circulation staff will be on hand to identify
and find materials for users.
4. The Library should begin now to partner with OIT in an experiment to provide
improved technology support to students. From our discussions with OIT staff,
and from our research, we believe that Tech students will benefit from getting
technology assistance from the same site that provides information support. Early
collaboration will provide helpful insight into how, and to what extent, our services
may converge and complement each other when we work together in the Information
Nexus. Extraordinary commitment from both parties will be required to identify
customer needs, staff training, turf responsibility and leadership issues.
Experimentation, risk-taking and assessment should be emphasized. In this near-term
experiment, Library staff will begin to provide a higher level of technical support.
This support, in response to the critical needs of undergraduates, will come from the
reference / information staff. The Library should begin discussion soon with OIT’s
Customer Support and Educational Technology units to identify the first goals in a
5. Training for Library staff and our collaborative partners (initially OIT) ensures
the highest level of service to students and faculty, and contributes to increased staff
competency and job satisfaction. Cross-training and awareness of student and faculty
needs improve both Library and OIT staffs’ understanding of each other’s
responsibilities, strengthens the collaborative effort, and points out logical areas for
6. Spaces conducive to individual and group study will be provided in the Gilbert
building. Individual and group spaces will proliferate, characterized by comfort,
quiet, and extreme flexibility. Students and faculty will be able to reserve many of
these semi-private spaces. Some scheduled tutoring may occur here as well (although
we expect the ILRC to provide significant tutoring space, especially for the core
undergraduate curriculum.) Gilbert and Crosland may be quieter than the ILRC, and
more contemplative in nature.
7. Crosland will almost exclusively convert to stacks for the storage of print
materials, but will it provide enough space for collections? The ILRC must be
equipped with voluminous compact storage on the ground floor (we presume this is
the most affordable spot to install a strong floor). It is difficult at this early date to
suggest what collections it might hold. Perhaps our rapidly expanding Archives and
Records Management collections, or special collections like micro-format materials
and government information may move to compact storage. Our decisions must
result in a logical flow of, and access to, materials across the three buildings.
We believe it will be difficult for Crosland and Gilbert to contain all physical
materials we now own and will acquire in the years to come. At this time (April
2001) the Library has 14,500 empty shelf-feet. This space will be completely used up
in less than 6 years. If the Architecture Library’s collection were absorbed by the
main Library today, only 10,000 empty shelf-feet would remain. Print material will
arrive, at least for the next 10 years, at the rate of ½ shelf-mile per year (2,600 shelf-
feet). After this time the acquisition of electronic text will significantly exceed print.
The main collections of print materials should continue to reside in Crosland, and
perhaps some “logical collections” in Gilbert, though it may be better that Gilbert is
dedicated to study space.
In Crosland one imagines the freeing-up of space for book stacks by: removing
information service staff offices and counters to the ILRC (as mentioned earlier);
moving current periodicals (even as they diminish in “print” format) onto compact
storage shelving which is safe for public access; reducing the print map collections by
relying on electronic cartographic materials; and removing most individual and group
study accommodations from the center of floors and relegating these activities to the
peripheries. Carrels along the perimeter of each floor in Crosland should be enlarged
and made more comfortable.
In the next month or two, we should measure the stacks storage potential of Crosland.
This was too time-consuming to carry out in the short time we had to complete this
8. Remote storage versus weeding to gain stacks space. Space could be gained in the
existing buildings by sending least-used materials to a remote storage site. Such a
site will be absolutely essential for staging the remodeling of the existing Library
buildings . . . the ILRC cannot manage the temporary overflow of books.
While it is difficult to imagine how it could be done expeditiously and wisely,
weeding of the collections may become necessary on an on-going basis. Dormant
monographs and government publications occupy a significant percentage of stacks
space. Can we afford to retain them as our remaining space rapidly diminishes?
9. Elegance on high. The Ferst Room should be refurbished before the ILRC is built.
There is a big demand for an elegant, ‘room-with-a-view’ meeting space on campus.
Donald Beagle, “Conceptualizing an Information Commons,” Journal of Academic
Librarianship 25, no.2 (1999): 82-89.
Deborah Holmes-Wong, Marianne Afifi, Shahla Bahavar and Xioyang Liu, “If
You Build It They Will Come: Spaces, Values, and Services in the Digital Era,” Library
Administration & Management 11, no.2 (Spring 1997): 74-85.
Chris Ferguson, “’Shaking the Conceptual Foundations,’ Too: Integrating Research and
Technology Support for the Next Generation of Information Service,” College &
Research Libraries 61, no.4 (July 2000): 300-11.
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