The photos above are of Bass Library (at the GSB) and its various study rooms / computer clusters. Even though this is the main GSB library, I have never enjoyed studying there beyond when it makes sense to do so (i.e. between class). I have never sought out this learning environment in off-hours which is interesting to me.
What do learners do there?
Learners generally do one of two things there: (1) they are in the study rooms working on team projects or (2) they are working individually at the computer clusters. There are also smaller areas for just sitting and reading case studies, but the space for this is fairly limited compared to the study rooms and computer clusters. Learners generally use the space during the day and the library becomes fairly empty in the evenings. The Bass Library is also used for on-campus interviews, so interspersed with the learners, you often have people walking around in suits waiting for interviews.
What is the environment like?
The environment is very atypical of a library. There are no books in Bass (all resources are electronic) so there are no shelves or stacks of books and reference materials. The noise level is greater than a typical library since people are generally there for short periods of time (between class) so there’s a lot of shuffling as people unpack / pack up and walk in or out of the library. Many learners use this space for team projects, so there is naturally some talking as groups of people walk in together before they disappear into the quiet of a study room. During recruiting season especially, the environment feels very corporate because of the large numbers of people in suits and the tense environment as groups of dressed-up recruiters and recruitees wait for their interview. Even during non-recruiting season, there is a “corporate” rather than “academic” feel to the library because of the sophisticated technology in each of the study rooms and the existence of professional work-setups such as the Bloomberg pit or the trading simulation room.
How does it help people learn?
I think the technology in the study rooms helps groups learn together by making team-work very efficient. For instance, there are conference call systems in case several people need to be on the phone at once. There are projectors that allow multiple people to project their laptops onto a large screen. The technology in the computer clusters (i.e. access to various databases and Bloomberg) allow for learning because there are a lot of resources that can be accessed from each terminal. However, beyond using the library for group meetings or a place to rest/get some quick work done between class, I’ve not seen people use the library much in off-hours when people are bustling about between class. Personally, I’ve never sought out Bass as an “inspiring” learning environment if I wanted to hunker down and read a bunch of materials or write a research paper. Something about the lack of books and the corporate environment makes it an uninspiring work environment, and I find myself preferring the law library or education library for more thoughtful, introspective learning.