The Information Commons/History

The term commons typically refers to the land (or common grounds) that villagers shared for grazing purposes in simpler times. A commons can also be any other shared resource.

The concept of the Information Commons is relatively new. Currently defined, the information commons comprises two halves – the physical of information commons as space, and the virtual, of resources and values as a platform for access to and advocacy for ideas. Information commons are not just about resources, but about relationships and community between the creators and users of information.[1]

While the terms Information Commons and Learning Commons are frequently used interchangeably, it is important to recognize where the two differ. The Information Commons, “a cluster of network access points and associated IT tools situated in the context of physical, digital, human, and social resources organized in support of learning.”[2] The Learning Commons is an evolution of the Information Commons in which the basic tenets of the Information Commons are enhanced and expanded upon in order to create an environment more centered on the creation of knowledge and self-directed learning.

Until 1995, people did not view the internet as a commons. During the mid-90s, internet user begin to see connections between the way people behave on the internet and they way people behave in other types of commons. The internet started to be viewed as a "shared resource."[3] The internet brought the Information Commons into a whole new arena by allowing anyone to become a creator or distributor of information.

Although the academic library is the location in which the Information/Learning Commons has perhaps the greatest potential for achieving the full degree of implementation and success, the information commons model can also be employed in either a school library/media center or in a public library.[4]

While the traditional library offered row upon row of books and bound journals, the new Information/Learning Commons has a limited number of print journals, frequently limited to a limited number of regular shelves or compact shelving. Increasingly, serials are available only online. More and more frequently, libraries are deciding to purchase electronic books instead of print copies. Other resources are increasingly available only electronically, which can make things difficult for patrons without home computers or high speed Internet access.[5]

References edit

  1. Kranich, N (2003) Libraries and the information commons: A discussion paper prepared for the ALA Office of Information Technology Policy.
  3. Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice by Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom
  4. Heitsch, E. & Holley, R. (2011). The information and learning commons: Some reflections. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 17:64-77. doi:10:1080.
  5. Heitsch, Elizabeth K. and Holley, Robert P., "The information and learning commons: some reflections" (2011). School of Library and Information Science Faculty Research Publications. Paper 76. DOI: 10.1080/13614533.2011.547416