Remember when going to the library meant looking through a card catalog to find a book and studying alone in silence? Well, that’s ancient history.
Today, Hodges Library at UT is bustling with people working on laptops, collaborating on digital projects and getting help for their computers.
And they are doing all these activities in what now looks like a hip hangout with brightly painted walls, upholstered booth seats and more space to spread out.
Welcome to The Commons.
The Commons on the second floor of Hodges Library is a one-stop service area operated in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology (OIT). It was renovated and expanded this summer and fall for the second time since opening in fall 2005.
The Commons has revolutionized the use of the library.
Barbara Dewey, dean of UT Libraries, says The Commons is "one of the largest such service-intensive facilities in research universities today."
Open 24 hours a day when classes are in session, The Commons has increased the number of students using the library by nearly 50 percent and increased circulation by almost 80 percent.
Since The Commons reopened this fall, the staff have attended to more than 2,400 people at the help desk, and more than 1,700 people have asked for computer consulting.
The renovations include reconfigured space and more appealing lighting, décor, carpet and furniture. It reopened this fall, and a grand opening is being planned for January.
The renovation did not add new services, but it was the first time the space had seen major changes since the library was built in 1987.
Teresa Walker, the IT services librarian, works in The Commons. She says one of the greatest benefits is the convenience that comes from working with OIT.
"Several library resources use NetID for authentication. Having the OIT HelpDesk here to reset passwords and troubleshoot NetID problems means that users can accomplish everything they come to do without having to go to another location on campus," Walker said.
The Commons offers library information and referral services, practice presentation room with training and support, SMART board, videoconferencing, writing lab, stat lab, OIT HelpDesk, computer lab, laptop check out, after-hours book retrieval, and digital media services.
There are 134 computers available in The Commons, and you can check online before you go to see how many are in use. You can even get help from The Commons without going there by sending an instant message. To see how, go to http://www.lib.utk.edu/refs/askusnow/. For more information about The Commons, go to http://commons.utk.edu/.