James Mullins

The Future is Now

Faculty guest column

By now many of you may have visited the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics. I'm sure you saw an amazing transformation from what we knew as the Management and Economics Library on the second floor of the Krannert Building.

This spring, near the end of the renovation and before its official opening, I visited the Parrish Library. As I sat on one of the comfortable couches, I reflected on my career in research libraries. I couldn’t help but marvel at the changes that have taken place in libraries and the dissemination of research during the past 40 years. Who could have imagined in the 1970s the library’s print-oriented world becoming the digital data frontier of today and tomorrow?

Today's library — as exemplified in Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics — was inconceivable even 10 years ago.

Even though this unusual spring provides many opportunities to study outdoors, the new collaborative library space, a showcase in form and function, is in high demand. It represents the fulfillment of a vision that began to form in 2004 and stands as a forerunner of innovative learning environments at Purdue and elsewhere around the country.

The already-acclaimed Learn Lab, a 40-seat interactive learning space in the Parrish Library, recasts the classroom as a collaborative active-learning environment equipped with smart board technologies and group workspaces designed to maximize student interaction.

Two semiprivate group study rooms and a business information mini-classroom support an accounting and finance curriculum. These rooms provide the ability to transmit between each room allowing a class to simulate communication to different geographical areas in different time zones.

On the morning of February 20, the soft opening of the Parrish Library, two students entered; they looked around in amazement not believing that this was the library.  By evening as many as 140 students had gathered to study, converse and commune in the innovative space. Within a week, a student contacted me to complain there were not enough places to sit in the Parrish Library, not a complaint I heard before the renovation. 

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