PCL gives preview of Scholars Commons Pilot

Ashley Tsao

The Perry-Castañeda Library previewed what is soon to be the newest study area on campus, the Scholars Commons Pilot, at an informational forum followed by live music and refreshments Wednesday.
The study facility is unique because it requires students to be silent, and, while it is open to all students, it will provide an area that is reserved for graduate students, according to Chris Carter, director of planning and operations for UT Libraries.

According to Jenifer Flaxbart, research and liaison services librarian, students can expect to see a data lab, individual study nooks, large and small study rooms, research support services and a graduate landing spot.

The Scholars Commons will provide graduate students with study areas, a lobby, media embedded rooms, a break room and a kitchenette, Flaxbart said.

“We decided to make part of the Scholars Commons restricted to graduate students because we would see them working upstairs in individual carols,” Flaxbard said. “There was no place for them to microwave food, relax in a different room or have a totally silent area to study.”

The quality and amenities of a study area are important because they can increase the productivity level of students, according to architecture graduate student Brianna Frey.

“This can stem from how much you are able to focus to if you have the right equipment around you,” Frey said. “Additionally, it is important, especially because my field has a lot of group work, to have collaborative spaces in study areas.”

The most important part of a study area is not only the equipment, but the environment, Juan Yunda, an architecture Ph.D. candidate, said. 

“It is important to have a combination of privacy and knowing that there are people around you,” Yunda said. “A study area should have lots of natural light, color and be motivating.”
The Scholars Commons Pilot will open in January 2016 and if the pilot goes well, there is a proposal to turn a large part of the PCL’s third floor into the Scholars Common proper,  Carter said.

Flaxibart said that after the study area does open, staff members will take comments and critiques from students in order to improve it.
Evan Todtz, an architecture graduate student, already has a suggestion.

“I would like to see a little more personality and color, or generally more life in the space,” Todtz said. “Instead of having a study space that is drab and makes you feel trapped, I hope that the Scholars Commons will have life and personality that engages you.”