Professor Pal Ahluwalia, USP Vice-Chancellor and President delivers his address.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP), Professor Pal Ahluwalia officially opened the University’s Library Learning Commons on 24 January 2019.
The Learning Commons is located on Level A of the University Library and has newly renovated interactive spaces for students to study.
It supports a holistic approach to academic support for students, through a more flexible learning environment that enables an efficient and effective, coordinated and collaborative approach to learning and teaching.
It also complements the shifts in educational pedagogy and enhances learning, teaching and student support through a more flexible learning and information sharing environment.
The renovation, valued at FJD 1.4 million, allows users access to a range of study areas and furniture that encompass different styles of learning, study and research.
The integrated approach supports the underpinning objectives of the education of Pacific people as expressed in national education development plans and responds to the interactive style of learning inherent amongst Pacific people.
Professor Ahluwalia noted that a pleasing thing about this initiative is that the library is now transforming itself into a more interactive learning space, and this, he added, will bring about a difference among the students.
While sharing his time at the University of Adelaide, he said that libraries nowadays are places where learning happens and people get excited about ideas.
“This Library Commons will provide students with a more flexible environment for learning which is in tune with the kind of pedagogies that the University is trying to encourage and develop,” Professor Ahluwalia said.
He hoped that the Learning Commons will enhance student experiences and allow staff to engage with each other collaboratively to engage in new forms of learning and teaching as well as providing a key platform for exceptional research.
While highlighting that a good library is essential to ensuring that the students and researchers have the best access to what the world has to offer, he commended that USP library has unquestionably one of the best Pacific collections in the world.
“The library for me is key to research, student learning and to success. I never see a difference between teaching and learning, and research as being two different domains rather, there is a very strong nexus between the two, and I think that is where the library has a core function,” Professor Ahluwalia said.
Mrs Elizabeth Reade Fong, University Librarian and Professor Pal Ahluwalia, during the opening of Library Learning Commons.
The Vice-Chancellor and President thanked members of his Senior Management Team (SMT), University Librarian, staff of USP Library and those who were involved in the renovation works.
Mrs Elizabeth Reade Fong, the University Librarian shared that the idea of interactive learning spaces was born following her participation at the mLibraries Conference at University of British Columbia in 2009, where she observed the Irving K Barber Library’s commons space. She returned and informed the then Librarian, Ms Sin Joan Yee that this was the way forward.
Mrs Fong noted that in today’s age, library designs are driven by learning behaviour with technology, though essential, is a support tool.
Therefore, she said that USP Library’s aim `is tosupport and expand the student-centred or independent learning process, accommodating different study types and reflecting the diversity of human behaviour, that is, different learning preferences and personality types.’
She further shared USP Library’s mission of advancing the University’s mission by providing equitable regional access to excellent library and information services, resources and facilities for students and faculty and the wider Pacific community to facilitate their life-long learning activities.
“The library benchmarks itself against international library and technology scene; whilst we think Global we also act Local,” she said.
These benchmarks, Mrs Fong noted, are met through outreach and collaboration with faculties and other professional units like Centre for Flexible Learning, Student Learning Support (SLS), Research office, Information Technology Services (ITS), Student Administrative Services (SAS), Campus Directors, and regional library staff.
She thanked Wilson Architects of Australia for the concept design, and acknowledged Hamilton Wilson, Philip Lukin and Sofie Lorenz for creating a Master Plan for the Library, with a theme of “Creating new libraries within the old - focus on the learner!”
Some of the services provided at the Learning Commons include: One-stop-shop that provides space for student support services inclusive of SLS, ITS, SAS, and the Disability Unit; bookable discussions spaces named Latui, Belo and Kikau; general use Yalu Lounge: Information Research Skills (IRS) Lab dedicated to information literacy training , Learning Labs; Coffee cart service; a gender neutral toilet; and a seating capacity of up to 600 users.
In response to student feedback, the USP Library made provision for extra power point outlets, which now totals 398 over the three Library levels.
The Learning Commons also boasts a mural by artists Lingikoni Vakauta and William Camakau titled “Journey in the House of Knowledge.”
The mural is divided into twelve (12) panels that represent the twelve (12) member countries of USP.
An artwork or image from each island country is in the work as a representative of that nation. For example, a tanoa fai’avaa kava bowl from Samoa, a nguzunguzu from the Solomon Islands, a tabua from Fiji.
Mrs Fong reaffirmed the Library’s dedication to Student Success, adding that this is what the Library is all about.
“We invite you and your students to Engage, Ignite and Connect at the Library!”
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