USF Sarasota-Manatee to remodel Information Commons area

Rendering showing the inside of the proposed study lounge within the Information Commons area.

Rendering showing the inside of the proposed study lounge within the Information Commons area.

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 29, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee students wandering into the Information Commons area this fall might notice a few changes, namely, a glass partition where the information desk sits and a new study lounge.

As students dive into internships this summer or simply take a break from studies, work crews will be busy remodeling the area to turn it into a lounge.

Crews have already begun clearing the second-floor space and early next week will start to dismantle the information desk and stone façade, which will be repurposed.

By the time work is finished before the start of the fall semester, the space will be filled with new carpets, tables, chairs, eight computers, a massive sectional couch and two large flat-screen monitors that can be hooked up to laptops for group study.

“The idea is to create an inviting, collaborative study area,” Diane Fulkerson, faculty coordinator for Library Services/Information Commons said of the 10- to 11-week project. “When it’s done, it will be a more comfortable and relaxed setting, kind of like a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble.”

But without coffee machines and baristas.

A second, private area will be positioned left of the entrance where one of two flat-screen monitors will be available for students. The other monitor will be located within the lounge.In addition, workers will add numerous outlets where students can charge laptops and cell phones.

All of this is being done with the aim of boosting students’ usage of the Information Commons space.

While the rotunda area has remained popular, Fulkerson said, many students may have ignored the study room or simply weren’t aware of it because it was tucked out of sight behind the information desk.

Removing the desk and replacing the wall with a glass partition will open the space and make it brighter and more inviting, she said.

“Part of this is looking at the potential for that space and seeing what other institutions have done,” Fulkerson said, noting the trend toward “lounge-like” settings with couches and cushy chairs.

“We wanted to make it more modern and up-to-date, and this will also make the space more inviting. Groups that need more privacy can use the side room,” she said.

The changes will double the area’s seating capacity to about 80 seats. The color palette – mostly USF colors – will consist of shades of green, yellow and mauve and black.

Student Government President Alexander Benishek, who viewed the plans, said he’s impressed by what he’s seen so far.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s a huge step forward in this campus’ plan to become more student-friendly,” he said.

The idea of having two spaces – a study lounge plus a separate “quiet” room – should address conflicts that have arisen between students collaborating on projects and those wanting a quiet place to study, he said. As a result, the area should see increased usage.

During construction, workers will install a temporary partition to separate the work space from the rotunda. Renderings showing the proposed lounge are on display on the second-floor space. The target for completion is mid-August.