I and my colleague Connie Holland (the two full time tutors at the UNBSJ Writing Centre)
have recently moved from an out-of-the-way location in a remote building on our campus
to the new (though temporary and provisional) learning commons in the library. One
unsurprising thing we have noticed is an increase in general activity and interest
around us; there are more students in the offing because there are other facilities and
attractions nearby, and we have more people wandering or blundering in to ask questions
related to their work, or to ask us who we are and what we are doing there, or indeed
to seek a place to take a private cell phone call (we are located just off the main
library space in what used to be the "map room").
In the winter term of 2008 (i.e., Jan.-May) we experimented with a walk-up tutor, who
made no appointments and was located in the main commons area, cheek by jowl with a
bank of computers and seated beside a large sign on an easel reading "The tutor is IN."
This arrangement didn't turn out to be particularly successful, and there were long
periods when she had little to do, though the other tutors directed students her way,
especially when we were at or above capacity (we add evening and weekend shifts with
other tutors as the term progresses and demand increases). We have since wondered
whether we perhaps needed to advertise her presence more aggressively.
I like the fact that students can and do drop by; occasionally it's invasive, but I'd
rather be in a place with too much action than one with not enough. Sometimes students
who have had a tutorial session earlier and who have moved to one of the library
computers to work on their assignment come back to clarify something or ask a new
question that their revisions have provoked. Sometimes a student shows up with a coffee
for me from the nearby Tim Horton's.
Feels like university is occurring, in other words, certainly more than it did when we
were at the edge of our (very small) campus and only ever saw people who had made a
special trip to be there.
I don't know if the above is remotely related to what you were wondering about, but I am
willing to be of any use I can be.
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