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SBU News > Magazine > Magazine Fall 2016 > A 21st Century Library for Collaborative Learning

A 21st Century Library for Collaborative Learning

At more than 2 million volumes, Stony Brook University’s Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library stands as the largest academic research library on Long Island. A recent $3 million modernization of the North and Central Reading Rooms has transformed the Library into a centralized, interdisciplinary learning environment: a model for the 21st century university campus.

“Student academic success today depends on meaningful collaborations,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “These renovations turn our Library into a dynamic space that promotes both independent and collaborative learning by maximizing our seating capacity, creating spaces for intimate groups and installing state-of-the-art technology wholly accessible to the Library’s 2.2 million annual visitors.”

The Central Reading Room is designed to be a community gathering place within the Library.

The rooms now offer high-tech study suites featuring the latest technologies, 100-plus computers, increased Wi-Fi access and about 1,000 seats specially designed for comfort, study and socialization. The costs of the renovations were offset by a $1 million gift from the Stony Brook Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) organization that advances the goals and strategic plan of the University. In recognition of its gift, the North and Central Reading Rooms will be known as the Stony Brook Foundation Knowledge Commons.

“The Foundation Board shared President Stanley’s vision to create a centralized learning hub that would further enhance the campus,” said Dexter A. Bailey Jr., executive director of the Stony Brook Foundation and senior vice president of advancement. “This is another example of how the Campaign for Stony Brook and private philanthropy supports the University’s mission and strategy.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Cole Lee is thrilled with the new Stony Brook Foundation Knowledge Commons. “It was very well thought out,” he said. “Each aspect of the space was intended to foster the collaboration, comfort and quiet that students need. There is no limit to what we can do with this space.”

The North Reading Room features a 30-seat flexible learning lab; 12 technology-enabled collaboration rooms that students can reserve online; ergonomic seating for individual and group study; optimized lighting and acoustics to enhance focus and learning; and a one-stop service desk that assists students, faculty and staff with Library services and functions.

The Central Reading Room is designed to be a community gathering place within the Library. It has an event space, a reading nook, two classrooms and group study suites equipped with collaborative technologies.

The Foundation Knowledge Commons also provides more conspicuous seating for Library faculty and staff, making them more accessible to help visitors.

“We consulted with Library users, acoustic experts, design experts and others to develop a modern approach to create more functional areas to address technology needs,” said Constantia Constantinou, dean of University Libraries. “The renovation project reflects the University’s mission of academic excellence, positioning our Library as the center of collaboration, digital innovation and scholarly endeavors.”

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