Hampshire earns $1.2M to reinvent college library

Grant will help establish the college library as central to campus learning

college-libraryHampshire College’s leaders are invoking the spirit of experimentation that founded the College as they launch a far-reaching initiative to establish the college library as the hub of campus learning and a model for higher education. And a major foundation has endorsed the plan by awarding the College a $1.2 million grant to fund it.

Hampshire has earned the grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in response to the College’s proposal, titled Learning Commons 3.0, for the reinvention of the Harold F. Johnson Library.

Hampshire’s project team will use the funds to develop service models and to modernize and transform the library into an integrated hub of content, tools, and services in support of the College’s curriculum.

The plan promises to result in a prototype that benefits libraries throughout the Five Colleges and beyond, creating a model for 21st-century academic and technological requirements.

“Our efforts will provide our consortium colleges and the broader higher ed community with an example and a process for the continued transformation of the role of the library in education,” said Library Director Jennifer King.

The initiative is the result of more than two years of planning by a 15-member steering committee comprising faculty, students, and staff and chaired by King, an effort funded by a 2014 Mellon grant of $65,000. Using a thorough process centered on extensive interviews of a range of constituents, the committee identified priorities for its learning-commons proposal:
• Academic support services will be brought together alongside the research librarians and their instructional technology;
• Workspaces will be created to be open, collaborative, flexible, and technology-rich;
• Maker-space labs will be strengthened; and
• Hampshire’s current peer-mentoring process will be enhanced with a strong training component and extended across the curriculum, broadening the library’s capacity and expanding student involvement in delivery of services.

Unfolding over four years and involving several stages, the plan will strengthen many existing services and resources, and help guarantee a prominent future for a reimagined facility.

Next page: How the library will offer services in coordination with other departments

Laura Ascione