By Erika Torvik
Since its opening in the spring of 2013, Anderson Academic Commons has become the hub of intellectual life at the University of Denver. The University spent ten years conducting surveys and planning this replacement for Penrose Library, and the new building directly reflects current trends in learning and education. Rather than functioning solely as a quiet place to study or as the backdrop to office hours, it offers the possibility for extended learning opportunities and collaborations that are not typically associated with a traditional library.
Anderson Academic Commons – commonly known as the AAC – has two thousand outlets (about one per seat) and thirty-two group study rooms equipped with white boards and flat screens that connect to computers, tablets, and smart phones. However, technology is not the AAC’s most impressive feature. Richly integrated educational experiences are made logistically possible by the new space and facilitated by staff members like Andrea Howland. As the Community Relations Manager, Howland promotes speakers and coordinates events with different departments across campus.
Anderson Academic Commons recently hosted an event with Adrian Miller, a culinary historian, who had used the DU library’s Husted Cookery Collection to research his recent book about soul food. Attendees listened to Miller speak as they enjoyed authentic cuisine and music performed by DU students. Fusions of academia, food, and entertainment were not possible in the previous Penrose Library. But, thanks to the generosity of more than 5,000 donors during ASCEND: The Campaign for the University of Denver, the AAC has been able to host these types of interdisciplinary events. By offering this gathering and many others like it, Anderson Academic Commons makes such events more accessible to students, staff, faculty, and the greater Denver community.
Howland says she “loves that the library has an impact on everybody at the university.” Users might come in to pick up a book or eat lunch at the Front Porch Café and notice an exhibit or an upcoming guest speaker. The Anderson Academic Commons is a valuable resource that enriches academic life at the University of Denver. As the intellectual hub of campus, it truly helps build community.
If you want to learn more, please contact the office of
Donor Relations & Stewardship at 303.871.2699.