Ramapo College of New Jersey Learning Commons
Mahwah, New Jersey
Like many academic institutions across the country, Ramapo College of New Jersey found that its primary library merited a renewal and expansion to better serve students and keep pace with peer institutions. In addition to enhancing a poorly defined entrance to campus, Ramapo’s ultimate goal is to transform the existing George T. Potter Library into a vibrant knowledge commons that will enable students to learn and study more effectively by incorporating new technologies and methods of creating scholarship.
Although physical collections remain an important element of college libraries, they are no longer the dominant consideration of their design and programming. Rather, the most successful libraries provide a variety of flexible learning environments and high-quality experiences for both individual and group study while co-locating library, information technology, and other academic support expertise. To satisfy these expressed needs, Ramapo’s library renovation and addition will include spaces on all floors for both individual and collaborative learning and feature several new student and faculty-orientated services, including the College’s Information Technology Services, the Krame Center for Contemplative Studies, a newly-created makerspace, an expanded Special Collections, and enhanced space for Reference and Research Services.
In addition to several new conference rooms and two informational literacy classrooms, the library will add over twenty technology-rich group study rooms to be used for screening films, conducting group presentations, one-button studio recording, video conferences, and remote learning. And since library users are often immersed in their work for hours on end, a wide variety of comfortable seating options will address user preferences for lounge, study, and computer-intensive activity.
Additionally, Ramapo’s facility will also receive a thorough replacement and contemporizing of the building’s aging systems, including upgrades to the building envelope to address thermal performance and water infiltration issues and increase access to daylight and views, while maintaining the building’s slate panel façade, which is an iconic feature of the campus’ historic core buildings. When completed for the 2021 fall semester, the Learning Commons will not only enhance the College’s current exceptional academic curriculum, but it will also be a feature component of the College’s educational mission for many decades.