Dallas College libraries become learning commons


Alex Morris, left, tutors sports medicine major Garrison Conliffe on Nov. 23 in the learning commons at Eastfield. Photo by Rory Moore/The Et Cetera

Aimee Jimenez, Contributor

 Libraries on all seven Dallas College campuses have transitioned into learning commons. 

Academic testing, tutoring, academic labs and computer assistance are all included in the new structure.

Maggie Baker, the learning commons regional manager, said the change will provide enhanced support for students and faculty.

“We want to have a one-stop shop for the students, so they don’t have to go all over campus to get different resources,” Baker said. 

Most of these resources will be available in the learning commons, but academic testing will be in C-275.

Baker said a contact sheet with all the different locations under learning commons support will be available to students. 

“They can expect a seamless transition of using resources,” Baker said. “They can experience workshops, get tutoring, study skills, and if needed, reserve rooms. All these resources will be within in the learning commons.”

Baker said one of the reasons for the transition was to solve the issue of disparity of resources on the different campuses. 

Some campuses had the most updated technology for students to use while others had to settle for less advanced resources. Under the new learning commons, each campus will have sufficient computer labs and testing materials to meet students’ needs. 

Smarthinking, an online tutoring service, is one of the new resources that’s been added. 

On-campus tutoring hours are still from 8a.m.-8p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. 

English faculty Kassandra Buck expressed concern that her students won’t have the help under the new structure that they had previously. 

“If I needed help finding resources [before], I would always have a librarian to help me,” Buck said. “And I feel like now they will be short-staffed. They won’t have the ability to help me find resources and help me to better my classes.” 

Library staff at all campuses were consolidated during the reorganization to Dallas College, and even though a total of 39 new staff members were recently hired to fill those positions, Eastfield campus alone has an estimated 14,000 students.

“The numbers do not match,” Buck said. “They are still wanting to hire more people, but I feel it is going to be overwhelming for the librarians to keep up with students’ needs and faculty’s needs.”

Buck said the resource desk that was previously in the library should be brought back. The resource desk was a place where students without textbooks and class materials could review and make copies of standby materials that the library had available. 

Buck said librarians used to come into her class and create engaging activities so students could learn to use the databases and find sources. They would also explain the difference between popular and scholarly sources. 

“Change is good. I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing,” Buck said. “But I feel there’s going to be growing pains within this new learning commons to accommodate our students. I like my students to use the library, so I hope they can create or continue some form of interactive learning sessions for students.”

At a recent meeting with student journalists, Chancellor Joe May said the goal of the new learning commons structure is to provide support for a broader range of students.

“That really is to … increase that support on the academic side, the learning side, the tutoring side,” May said. “That’s really, as we see, an evolving role of how students need to use the library and the resource that they can provide.”