Information and Learning Commons Development

A cooperative effort of the Michigan Tech Library and Information Technology
Initiative to Enhance Computing and Information Access Support for Michigan Tech Students

The Michigan Tech Library is undergoing a major renovation this fall to create a more technologically advanced learning environment to meet the evolving needs of students. This includes:

  • New, faster computing equipment - Dell Optiplex 9020 All-in-One desktops will be installed throughout the library.
  • A more open and collaboration-friendly environment - To better meet the evolving learning and computing needs of students, changes such as clusters optimized for collaboration and teamwork, more tools including whiteboards throughout, ergonomic computing desks and chairs (with AC/USB power points), shared collaboration screens, and digital signage will be installed throughout the upcoming school year.
  • Expanded Availability - Operating hours will be increased to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The migration of open lab seats to a common location in the Library - Current "open" computer labs will be repurposed and refurnished as wireless lounges and academic spaces. For a list of affected labs, please visit the computer lab listing.

The Michigan Tech Information and Learning Commons Development is a joint project of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library and Information Technology Services and Security.

The development is divided into 14 phases; the first and second phases are in progress and scheduled to be completed by September 16, 2013.

Development Highlights

Computing Improvements

Enhanced access to the campus’ common core software will be relocated from the open labs to the Van Pelt and Opie Library. Benefits to students include: Technology updates will focus on computing and mobile device support and include new, very fast computers (Dell All-In-One, new color printers, a multitude of power points, charging stations, wireless network upgrade and the library uplink increased to 10gigabits/second).

Campus Building Improvements

Re-purposing of open computer lab space in various buildings will begin mid-September and will result in a variety of wireless lounges, classroom, and other academic spaces.

Significantly Increased Collaborative Spaces and Student Choice

Students will see a number of changes phased in throughout the year, including furniture and clustered arrangements optimized for group-work and collaboration. Additional whiteboards, ergonomic computing desks and chairs, shared collaboration screens, and digital signage will also be installed.

Individual Work and Study Spaces

The third floor will remain the quiet space with more seating for individuals. The garden level will have more desirable study and computing spaces. Laptop bars will also be placed in several areas throughout the library. Based on student demand, the lobby area of the library will have "express stations" for quick access, and students will see a larger number of printer and scanners throughout the building.


The entire library facility will be open 24/7 for the full year with minor holiday exceptions and the ability to book study rooms, charge out materials, and get basic help at all hours. We will use this year to see how students wish to make use of the building and will proactively seek recommendations.

Specialized Clusters

Flexible furniture and specialized, often costly technologies and software will be available to support all programs and departments. The approach we are taking – flexibility – maximizes opportunities for making changes rapidly to support curricular and student needs.

Additional Library Enhancements

A very generous alumnus has provided the funding for a plaza and garden between the library and Rekhi Hall. In response to student requests, electrical outlets and better wireless will be available outside near the Library Café. Inside, seating near the Café will also be increased. William Jackson, another generous alumnus, has provided funding to support the Center for Teaching and Learning in the library with the goal of enhancing faculty teaching and student learning.

What Will Not Happen

  • These transformative changes do not decrease student study or seating space; these will be increased.
  • There will be changes in the location of the current, unbound research journals (from the Café area to the garden level) and some print indexes (e.g., Chemical Abstracts) will be removed (those with digital, value-added counterparts).
  • The library will continue its weeding process by consulting faculty and interested students to eliminate, in Spring 2014, some print books that are no longer relevant to Michigan Tech’s curricular or current and likely future research needs. This type of weeding – to make it easier to see and use new and useful print material – is not related to the technology transformation in the library.

View the Open Lab Migration Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.