Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Wilmeth Active Learning Center Open August 7

Wilmeth Active Learning Center Open August 7

August 2nd, 2017

The Wilmeth Active Learning Center houses the Library of Engineering and Science.
The Wilmeth Active Learning Center houses the Library of Engineering and Science. Photo courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann.

Purdue University’s newest building, the Thomas S. and Harvey D. Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC) will open to the public Monday, August 7.

Over the summer, Purdue Libraries faculty and staff consolidated the Chemistry; Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS); Engineering; Life Sciences; Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences; and Physics libraries to form the Library of Engineering and Science in one location at the heart of campus.

The WALC houses 27 collaborative active-learning classrooms and will be a daily academic destination for approximately 5,000 Purdue students and faculty. (Read more about the background of the facility at

The WALC exemplifies Purdue University’s commitment to undergraduate education. The 1924 Heat and Power Plant (HPN), with its iconic smoke stack, stood for nearly 90 years on the site of the WALC. HPN not only provided power and heat to the dynamic university community, but it also served as a laboratory for engineering students. Today, we would refer to that learning experience as “active learning.”

Below are some FAQs about the new facility.

.Q. What does the Library of Engineering and Science offer?

A. The Library of Engineering and Science (LOES) in the WALC holds approximately 30,000 print volumes, emphasizes the focus on provision of digital resources, and consolidates the holdings and services of six formerly separate libraries into one easily accessible location.

The materials selected for the physical collection of the Library of Engineering and Science have been evaluated by Libraries faculty with input from departmental faculty. The books, reference collection, and standards have been identified as high-use, high-demand materials that best support the teaching and learning goals of the curricula within the schools and departments.

LOES also houses Libraries faculty and staff members, who specialize in access to information resources in engineering and science, as well as in instructing students on how to identify, locate, critique, and retrieve scholarly information. In collaboration with their faculty colleagues in the colleges and schools, the Libraries faculty teach specialized courses and/or participate as team faculty members.

Although the focus of LOES is to provide access to information in engineering and science, the use of resources and space is open to all Purdue students and faculty.

The Library of Engineering and Science is located on the second floor of the WALC.
The Library of Engineering and Science is located on the second floor of the WALC.

Q. How are the active-learning classrooms different from what many would consider a “traditional” classroom, with student seating and a lectern for the instructor?

WALC’s design reflects the most contemporary methods for teaching and learning. The 27 active-learning classrooms are designed with flexible, collaborative seating options that offer a range of team-based learning experiences. Library spaces are adjacent to classrooms throughout the WALC.

At the close of regular instructional hours, the entire WALC, including the classrooms, becomes a library, with all spaces providing opportunities for individual and collaborative study. The WALC is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week nearly the entire year, with a few exceptions.*

Q. What else does the Wilmeth Active Learning Center offer for Purdue students and faculty?

View of the Purdue University Bell Tower from inside the Wilmeth Active Learning Center's Reading Room.
View of the Purdue University Bell Tower from inside the Wilmeth Active Learning Center’s Reading Room.

Reading Room: Since their inception, a traditional element of libraries has been the large reading room. Here, students and faculty can consult materials held by the library, as well as work in a space designed to be conducive to thinking, reflection, and writing. The Reading Room in the WALC serves as a link between the historic role of libraries and the dynamics of an active-learning environment. The view of the iconic Clock Tower, with its bells denoting each hour and at the beginning and end of a class session, serves as a unique reminder that one is truly at Purdue University.

Data Visualization Experience Lab of PurdueData Visualization Experience Lab of Purdue (D-VELoP): D-VELoP provides a space where students, staff and faculty can explore different visualization tools designed to turn their data into knowledge. D-VELoP includes a staffed, open-use 16-seat teaching computer lab. The computers are loaded with visualization programs, and each set up includes large and/or multiple monitors enabling the viewing of data at different scales. A 3×3 tile wall of 4k monitors can be used for presentations, class discussions, or exhibits of data visualizations. Technological tools, such as micro-controller kits and GoPro cameras, allow students to experiment without having to purchase their own. Additionally, four Lulzbot TAZ6 3d printers allow students to visualize their data and designs in a tactile, manipulatable format.

Robust workshops and training programs, in coordination with other maker-related units on campus, help students and faculty to become familiar with technologies they can employ in order to carry out their class projects, pursue personal interests, or advance their research programs.

Hiler Theater: Designed to accommodate an audience of 308 people, the Hiler Theater can serve as a venue for such active-learning instructional activities as drama, film, and lectures during the day, as well as special evening programs for the campus and community. The seats are equipped with tablet arms to accommodate note-taking during presentations and lectures.

Artifacts and Audio Tour: The walls of the WALC are rich with reproductions of historic photographs of the Purdue University campus from the Purdue University Libraries’ Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. Artifacts and photographs from the working 1924 Power and Heating Plant can be found throughout the building. These items memorialize the rich legacy of this central site on the Purdue campus.

A smartphone tour enhances the exhibits in the WALC by providing information and interactive activities designed to make a visitor’s experience an extension of the WALC active-learning philosophy.

An Au Bon Pain Café is located on the main level of the WALC. It is known for serving fresh baked goods, as well as other morning and lunchtime sandwiches.

Additionally, the 164,000-square-foot facility offers 100 ITaP computers,  both open and enclosed group study spaces, large monitors/screens and whiteboards for group collaboration, poster printing and other printing resources, and much more!

Purdue students can work together in groups in the study spaces offered in the Purdue University's new Wilmeth Active Learning Center.
Purdue students can work together in groups in the study spaces offered in the Purdue University’s new Wilmeth Active Learning Center.

Q. With the consolidation of libraries, how many libraries are open on the West Lafayette Campus?

A. Below is a list of the libraries on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus before and after the WALC:

The Purdue Libraries on West Lafayette campus before WALC
The list of Purdue Libraries as of August 2017 (opening of WALC)
Archives and Special Collections Archives and Special Collections
Aviation Technology Aviation Technology
Black Cultural Center Black Cultural Center
Chemistry* Engineering and Science**
Earth, Atmospheric, Planetary Sciences (EAPS)* Hicks Undergraduate
Engineering* Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE)
Hicks Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences
Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE) Parrish Management and Economics
Life Sciences* Veterinary Medical
Mathematical Sciences
Parrish Management and Economics
Pharmacy, Nursing, Health*
Veterinary Medical

* These libraries were combined in the new Library of Engineering and Science** in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.

Q. What are the libraries’ hours?

A. The hours of each of Purdue University Libraries are listed at

*After the Fall 2017 semester begins, the WALC will remain open 24 hours per day (with PUID card swipe), and, as of Sunday, Aug. 20, the Hicks Undergraduate Library will no longer be open 24 hours per day.