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Quarterly Libraries Staff Meetings Foster Engagement & Creativity

October 4, 2017

Each quarter, the Libraries holds an all-staff meeting to give its personnel the opportunity to share feedback with the Dean of Libraries and to build collegial relationships across departments and locations. To encourage engagement, meetings usually include an interactive element, from activities like group discussions to brainstorming and role-playing.

The topic for the fall 2017 meeting, held on September 8, 2017, was Updating the Libraries Strategic Actions: Focus on the W. W. Hagerty Library Café.

The focus of this meeting was to give staff the opportunity to discuss plans to transform the Libraries – specifically the Bookmark Café – into a Learning Exploratorium, an initiative that falls under the Libraries’ third strategic direction, mentioned below.

Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, set the stage by first reviewing the Libraries’ four core obligations originally identified in 2012.  She then discussed how those obligations are being refreshed for the next five years to contribute to three of the University’s ambitions:

  1. Contain affordability of higher education: The Libraries’ transforming “collection building” expenditures to making decisions about how to facilitate access to information are driven by costs, usage, and alignment with the University’s educational and research priorities.
  2. Shape future of scholarship: The Libraries applies its knowledge and expertise to simplify discovery of information resources and to enable access to and exposure of Drexel-generated research outputs to global researchers.
  3. Stimulate and coach students to become life-long learners: The Libraries guides the Drexel community to utilize any information responsibly and builds learning environments that promote self-directed learning.
    A male student works on a laptop in the Bookmark Cafe.
    The Bookmark Cafe in 2012.April 2017.

The focus of this quarter’s meeting was to give staff the opportunity to provide input about the planned efforts on the third strategic action which includes plans to further develop the Learning Exploratorium concept within the W. W. Hagerty Library.

Dean Nitecki then gave an overview of the space design process, starting with the identification of behaviors expected of those using the space – to become a life-long learner, taking ownership of their learning and engaging with such active learning behaviors as working alone, in groups, and amidst others; experiencing exposure to diverse perspectives; and meeting  faculty and other experts.  

A female student sits at a table in the Bookmark Cafe.
The Bookmark Cafe in April 2017 following the first round of renovations to the space.

The desired outcome of the renovation project is to continue to explore the intersections of furnishings, technologies and guidance in a physical space that stimulate people to be life-long learners. Specifically, this phase of change in the former Bookmark Cafe space is to create an informal environment for learners to “practice” interaction with information and data, particularly in sharing their new insights with others through presentations. 

After this introduction, staff were invited to engage in group brainstorming to identify activities and programs that will stimulate and model active learning behaviors. Some ideas discussed during the meeting include:

  • Using data about sports teams to illustrate statistical thinking
  • Invite student clubs to connect groups around queries that are relevant to them
  • Hackathons
  • Provide spaces to work alone
  • Makerspace
  • Use large display screens to track competitive standing during competitive learning activities

The meeting closed with staff brainstorming and calling out energetic keywords that elicit a descriptive image of the future library space that might be used to rebrand the destination. Among expressed ideas were:

  • Learning Lounge
  • Dragon Lair
  • Dragon Lab
  • Bookmark Lab
  • Community
  • Creativity Clinic

Over the coming weeks, we will also actively solicit feedback from the Drexel Community. Have an idea or suggestion for the future of the space? Tell us about it by sending an email to