The Republic Polytechnic Library moved into the new Woodlands Campus in the first week of April 2006. This was achieved after much construction delays, walking around like Phua Chu Kang in safety boots and helmet and a month or more of housing the entire library staff temporarily in one single meeting room.
So how does an academic library, traditionally a straight-laced, staid and boring space become a place where work, play and learning become fused?
Republic Polytechnic (RP), a main proponent of the problem-based learning pedagogy, has adopted a “learn-work-play” environment which has also been incorporated into the library. Multi-sensory experience is the key word at RP library as you walk through its doors. You experience the vastness of its open spaces that the eight-foot columns convey, the visual colour and texture contrast of the parquet program areas, the tinkling or banging (depending on the skill of player) on various musical instruments, sounds of students engaged in project discussions, playing electronic games and the smell of coffee.
The plethora of experiences can sometimes be overwhelming to the uninitiated especially when they hit all at once. However, as with all living room space ideas, the informal setting and the flexible spaces all serve to allow one thing which is interaction.
Uninhibited behaviour of students and staff at library is one of the characteristics at RP Library that sets it apart from most libraries. Barring the common sensibilities that students and staff have to mind, RP Library is game for anything under the sun.
Performances to showcase aspiring actors; drumming workshops for budding musicians; art installations for up-and-coming artists; jamming sessions for bands; X-box games for hands-on gaming experience and a whole myriad of other activities take place within the premise of the flexi-community space that is also known as the library.
Modern dance performance in the library and Attentive students watching
With the entire campus riding on wireless technology and each student having their personal laptops, getting plugged into the virtual world anytime and anywhere is no issue. In fact, IT is so pervasive at RP that social tools such as instant messaging (IM) are a way of life for both students and staff. The library as such offers IM as one of the main channels of communication for reference and other information enquiries.
In order to support the high-tech campus and to ensure that students are able to have access to various consumer electronic products such as videos, digital cameras, web cameras and hard disks. The library loans out these equipment and provides the necessary infrastructure support for students to gain hands-on experience and exposure to technology.
Of course it is not always fun and games. As part of its flexible community space concept, the library shares its premises with the Student Career Centre (SCC) situated right in the central area of the library. Apart from career development resources, the central area also incorporates the leisure collection consisting of a variety of the latest fiction titles. This dynamic space is also where students and staff can lounge and chill with a good book, play a board game or just hang out.
All these in the name of learn-work-play where learning has never been more interesting.
Contributed by Ho Yen Wah & Jadely Seetoh