UT Libraries to expand study spaces, move writing center to PCL

Caleb Wong

One-third of the floor space on the first floor of the Perry-Castañeda Library will be renovated into the Learning Commons before the fall semester, according to UT Libraries employees.

The Learning Commons, which will be comprised of approximately 20,000 square feet of the floor, will include the University Writing Center, currently in the Flawn Academic Center, as well as learning labs and the media labs. Students will be allowed to study or collaborate on group projects when the areas are not in use for instruction or writing consultations, according to Michele Ostrow, head of the teaching and learning services for University of Texas Libraries. 

Other universities’ recently opened collaborative spaces spurred UT Libraries to build the Learning Commons, Ostrow said. 

“We wanted to include new teaching spaces since the spaces that we use right now in the libraries are not anywhere that students can find,” Ostrow said. “They’re not really set up to help students learn from each other and to do collaborative projects.” 

The consolidation of student academic services in the PCL will make it easier for students to use the services they need without walking across campus, Ostrow said. 

“We refer people to the writing center all the time, and I would just venture to say that most of them don’t make all the way to the second floor of FAC,” Ostrow said. “They just leave, and so if we just say, ‘Let’s take you to the writing center,’ and we walk 10 feet around the corner, then they’re actually going to get that help.” 

UT Libraries communications officer Travis Willmann said external funding for library projects, such as the Learning Labs, is difficult to secure because UT alumni are less attached to the UT Libraries than individual colleges and schools. 

“The library has the folks who use our resources,” Willmann said. “We don’t necessarily have the same sort of alumni or same sort of loyalties that the individual colleges and units have.”

Kai Lockhart, international relations and global studies freshman, said she believes the Learning Commons will make it easier to find study spaces and collaborate on group projects. 

“When I try to study in PCL, it’s … really crowded and hard to find somewhere to sit,” Lockhart said. “The way that this new layout looks … you can have a lot of other people with you when you’re studying [with groups].”