The title of this post is a quote from Scott Bennett (Bennett, Scott. Libraries and Learning: A history of paradigm change. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, vol.9, no. 2, (2009), pp. 181-197.)
"Those of us responsible for libraries and other non-classroom learning spaces should be mindful of what [John Seely Brown] says, however, if we want buildings that foster intentional learning and that escape the pitfalls of schoolwork, if we want to promote learning communities rather than trafficking in information, if we want ourselves to enact the mission rather than merely to support it."
At Olin we are definitely interested in fostering intentional learning and promoting learning communities and we are working in all kinds of ways to make this happen. One small example of this finally came to fruition this summer.
Readers of the library's Facebook page and this blog already know that we have done some small rejuvenation on the 4th floor. Well we finally took possession of seven of the end tables created by students in Josh Almonds 3D Foundations course and installed them on the fourth floor. They look great.
Why is this enacting the mission? Well the library is now a site for the display and use of student work, not just a place student study or 'traffic in information' in order to produce work of their own. I visited the class in the spring and explained what kind of end tables we needed, the dimensions, and specifications, and how they would be used. Then, at the final show, I negotiated with the students to buy the end tables that met my criteria. This was an important element in the course for Josh, who wanted the students to understand about the business of art. Finally, the tables are now in use, and on permanent display for the student artists to enjoy and as reminders to all students that their work has real impact beyond the classroom.