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The strategic plan adopted by Hamilton in 2002 sets this bold objective: "Hamilton will strive to become the national leader among liberal arts colleges for teaching students to demonstrate their knowledge and insights effectively through written, oral and other forms of communication."

To help achieve that objective, the Burke Library has collaborated with Information Technology Services to create the Information Commons (IC). Located on the first floor of the library in the Multimedia Presentation Center, the new initiative brings together high-capacity computing tools, the print and electronic resources of the library, and the professional assistance of both reference librarians and the information technology staff to provide a single point of service for the campus.

"Hamilton students are expected not only to develop critical thinking and research skills, but also to communicate their understanding effectively within and across disciplines," said Randy Ericson, the Couper Librarian. "We expect the IC to be a place used by many faculty members and students with work areas that encourage collaboration and modern computer technology for accessing, manipulating, analyzing and presenting information."

All students are required to take a Sophomore Seminar and complete a Senior Project, both of which culminate in an integrative project with public presentation. "The IC provides students with a place not only to conduct research and use library materials to develop their ideas. It also offers state-of-the art equipment used to produce their final products, whether that be a printed paper incorporating graphic elements, a poster or PowerPoint presentation, or a video," Ericson added.

One of the driving forces behind the IC is the desire to give students the skills necessary to adapt to what David Smallen, vice president for information technology, describes as the "information-driven society."

"The world our graduates will enter is a diverse, complex and global society in which electronic communication and access to information via computer networks will be commonplace," he said. "Leaders in this world will know how to collaborate with others, to access, evaluate, synthesize and analyze information, make decisions based upon that analysis and communicate those decisions in ways that will move others to action."

 

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