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College of St. Joseph re-imagines Giorgetti Library through learning commons model

Doreen McCullough has been the librarian at The College of St. Joseph for 30 years and has seen many changes during this time. Submitted Photo Doreen McCullough has been the librarian at The College of St. Joseph for 30 years and has seen many changes during this time.
Giorgetti Library is the hub of The College of St. Joseph’s academic community. It’s where students spend hours studying and exploring the numerous electronic databases for research materials and where faculty and staff meet to share ideas and develop new programs.

Throughout the years, the library has grown in response to the needs of the times, including updating its print collection and developing its digital resources. Now, it’s going to have a new look as well.

The library will be an all-inclusive stop through a learning commons model. Learning commons are areas that share space for information technology, classes, tutoring, meeting, reading and studying. 

The college received a $2.2 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education to aid in this effort.

The first floor will include the library’s print collection, as well as comfortable seating, tables for group work and a small café where students can get coffee and snacks. The second floor will house two learning specialists and additional workspaces.

One thing that has been a constant at Giorgetti Library is the welcoming face at the information center. Doreen McCullough has been the librarian for 30 years and is looking forward to the changes, which she said would allow the library to better meet the needs of students.

“It allows students to come together in one spot where they can collaborate and be close enough to the resources and research, all in one easy location,” she said. “The main thing is to get students into the library, where we can help them answer questions.”

The objective of a learning commons, McCullough said, is to foster an environment conducive to teamwork and knowledge co-construction.

“Libraries are transitioning from being just an archive to becoming a learning commons. The physical book still has an important role in supporting the informational needs of learners, but new technology has provided additional avenues of learning and content acquisition,” she said. “No longer do students need to go to the library to obtain research information. Rather, they desire a place that involves participatory learning and cultivates co-construction of knowledge from a variety of sources.”

The library will have expanded hours beginning this fall, and McCullough plans to host workshops with topics ranging from how to cite sources to searching for journal articles online.

This is the second major library renovation that McCullough has seen during her time at the college. The first was the move from a small space at one end of St. Joseph Hall to the current location, which used to house the gymnasium.

“The space was smaller, and the technology wasn’t there. We had a wooden card catalog,” she said, remembering the former space. “When this library was designed in 2006, it met our informational needs adequately. But things have changed since then, just in the last 10 years.”

The library renovations are expected to be complete by fall.
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