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Academic Tech Commons Design Awarded American Libraries Award

by Maggie Rotermund on 09/10/2018
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The Academic Tech Commons (ATC) in Pius XII Library has been recognized in American Libraries’ 2018 Library Design Showcase, which appears in the magazine’s September/October issue and is available online here.

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SLU students studying in Pius XII Memorial Library's Academic Tech Commons. SLU file photo.

The magazine calls the tech commons a standout feature which reimagines the academic library model. 

“Inspired by the Genius Bar at Apple stores, the ‘Ask SLU’ concierge service features walk-up information desks where patrons can receive tech support from both students and faculty,” the American Library Association noted.

Saint Louis University, along with its architectural design firm RATIO, was one of 17 institutions honored by the American Library Association for their new and renovated libraries. The annual feature in the ALA’s American Libraries honors innovative and interesting academic, public, school and special library constructions that effectively address user needs.

The featured projects were completed between May 1, 2017, and April 30, 2018. SLU’s 14,000 square-foot creator space in the Pius XII Memorial Library opened on Nov. 14, 2017.

The space includes 3D printers, 360 cameras, recording studios and hologram technology among its arsenal of innovative technologies. The ATC features modular seating as well as work areas to support individual or group work.

“The ATC provides state-of-the-art technology in newly designed spaces on the first floor of Pius XII Memorial Library that supports an evolving information environment of learning, teaching and research,” said David Cassens, dean of University Libraries. 

Quick print and charging stations are available and library users have the option to check out tablets, cameras and laptops while also accessing video editing and creation software.

The project was a collaboration that included the University Libraries, Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Student Government Association (SGA). The first phase of the project was announced in May 2017.

Two additional phases are planned for the ATC project, which include the creation of two new active learning classrooms, a flexible recording studio and small group study spaces. The SGA provided critical financial support to the project. Funds from existing student technology fees will fund a portion of the costs for the project over the next four years.

Other Missouri honorees this year include the post-tornado renovated Joplin Public Library and the John M. Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis.


Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.