Experiential and collaborative learning is a new trend in the field of education, which aims to provide a more engaging hands-on experience for students. As this pedagogy has gained popularity, it has become clear that new spaces are needed to encourage a culture of experimentation and collaboration in academic pursuits. The Mary Idema Pew Library, a state-of-the-art $65 million library, is a prime example of what such spaces might look like in the future.
The Mary Idema Pew Library serves Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan and the greater Allendale/Grand Rapids community. It is a spectacular building to behold; high ceilings and a great deal of glass have been incorporated into the design, which creates the feeling of being in a very open space.
This library is a fusion of traditional and revolutionary visions of libraries and what a learning environment should look like. This dichotomy is clearly reflected on its website; quiet, secluded spaces ideal for individual learning exist right down the hall from louder, collaborative spaces that highly encourage discourse and group participation.
The Mary Idema Pew Library aims to challenge the traditional perception of libraries as a home for books and librarians alone. This is accomplished by creating a space that, in part, ushers people in because it is a fun place to spend time. The library boasts a large café that can hold up to 100 people, as well as plenty of space to chat with friends.
The most unique quality of this library is its Knowledge Market: a group of highly trained student consultants who help library patrons find the books they desire as well as offering GVSU students one-on-one consultations which aim to help develop and polish sound research strategies and writing skills.
The establishment of the Mary Idema Pew Library was an attempt at creating a collaborative space that encourages both individual and group learning while challenging the perception of what a library is. So far, it appears to have been a huge success. Perhaps this is a glimpse of what more libraries will look like in the future?