This morning SINTO visited Rotherham College of Arts & Technology. The college has recently had a major reorganisation of its learning centres with the result that it now operates six learning centres - four at its town centre site and two at the Rother Valley site. Each centre focuses on a different set of subjects. Within each centre is a reception desk, social learning area, PCs for student use, quiet study area and classrooms. The learning centres provide access to a full range of books, journals and electronic resources and support from the library staff.
The centres have been developed from the existing college learning centres at each site and by making use of former teaching areas. Having to adapt a wide range of different spaces means that no two are the same but by using the same furniture & shelving - and a common template for each space -provides a unity of design. At the same time each learning centre has an atmosphere that reflects its subject coverage - whether it is building or creative arts.
What did come over strongly was the way in which the college's senior management team was able to develop a clear vision of how the learning centres would contribute to the learning needs of the college, and then enabled the librarians to achieve this. The college wanted learning centres that provided a welcoming environment for young people - stylish, relaxed and intimate. The Principal suggested subject-based centres and the head of service investigated this and reported that it could be achieved but would be expensive - not least because of the extra staff required. The college responded by providing the resources required to achieve this. The library staff had to work very hard to put all this in place and have adapted to new ways of working. The result has been a dramatic increase in the use of the learning centres by students, closer integration with teaching staff and a real sense that the learning centres are central to the work of the college.
Further information can be found on the SINTO wiki where I hope we can add information about other new builds and refurbishments in our area.