The future of learning at the University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield is creating a new learning experience for its students and staff in a single spectacular building with a new name, Information Commons. This new concept means that students will benefit from integrated access to printed learning resources and IT facilities in the same place at the same time, twenty-four hours a day.

The new £17.8m facility is unique in that it is designed to complement the University's established library and information technology facilities, adding a new dimension to its service to students. The Information Commons will provide a learning environment specially designed to meet the needs of undergraduate and postgraduate taught students, and academic staff at the University. Extended opening hours mean that students can study at the times and at the pace that suits them.

Located on the corner of Upper Hanover Street and Brookhill in Sheffield, the new building is due to open early 2007. It will provide the latest IT resources, including over 400 PCs and pervasive wireless networking and IT equipped classrooms; well-equipped spaces for teaching, learning and study; and 100,000 of the most in-demand books, along with a 70-seat café and sofas on which to curl up with a book. The Information Commons will also provide accommodation for CILASS, the Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences. CILASS is one of the University's nationally funded centres of excellence in teaching and learning.

The foundations for the building are nearing completion and the ground floor is currently being constructed. When complete, the building will be on seven floors, with over 6,000 m2 of usable space. The Information Commons will increase the quality and quantity of independent study space at the University, with 1070 study spaces planned in phase one and a further 290 when phase two opens a few months later.

Martin Lewis, Director of Library Services, said: "Information Commons means a shared information resource for our academic community. By setting a new standard for learning and study environments this exciting new building promises to be a great asset to the University and our future students, and it will help us to maintain our position as a leading UK university."

Chris Sexton, Director of the University's Corporate Information and Computing Services department also welcomed the Information Commons, saying: "We are dedicated to ensuring that the University of Sheffield offers its students the very best in cutting-edge computing facilities and suitable environments in which to use information technology as a central part of their study. The Information Commons will provide a wonderful new learning space that's appropriate for a 21st century university."

Paul White, Pro-Vice Chancellor for teaching and learning at the University, added: "The Information Commons will be a facility of which this University can be enormously proud. It confirms the extent of the University's commitment to the quality of the student experience and it will represent a major architectural addition to the campus on a key gateway site."

Notes for Editors: For further information or for images of the new building: Please contact Lindsey Bird, Media Relations Officer on 0114 222 5338 or email l.bird@sheffield.ac.uk