Smith Learning Theater

The Smith Learning Theater, located on the fourth floor of the Gottesman Libraries, provides an experimental environment that can be configured and curated to support ambitious learning, teaching, and research activities in the library. The goals of these guidelines are to promote wide use of the facility by members of the Teachers College community with priority given to academic use consistent with the overall policies of the Gottesman Libraries and the space use policies of Teachers College. Academic use includes activities that enrich the overall environment of the College and the growth of the TC community.

See the Library Events Calendar to learn more about upcoming events in the Smith Learning Theater.

Submit your application to use the Smith Learning Theater on this Form

Sponsoring an Event

Library staff members partner with event sponsors to create ambitious settings to optimize learning experiences. The Smith Learning Theater (the "Theater") features the widest range of reconfigurable elements available at Columbia University and allows event sponsors and participants to realize designs that cannot be achieved in typical settings. Planning for events in the Theater begins with a short application, ideally six months in advance of a proposed date. A library advisory group uses your application to identify an appropriate event producer to continue the planning process. 

The Theater infrastructure offers a robust set of tools and technologies that can be augmented over time to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty. Learn more about the Smith Learning Theater Toolset. Library staff document and archive many aspects of theater events, including planning, production, and execution processes. Please review these example resource collections to better imagine possibilities for your event:

2017-18 event highlights (listed by recency):

Please contact us if you have any questions. Use of the Theater falls under the College’s Room Assignments Policy found here.  Note that the Theater is not a classroom space so is not available for a semester course assignment. Priority deadlines for Learning Theater applications are due by August 10 for the spring, December 10 for the summer and April 10 for the fall.  After these dates, applications will be honored as space permits on a rolling basis.  Once an application is submitted, expect a response within 3 to 4 weeks. 


Assignment of a Producer

Acceptance of an application initiates a process of assigning a library staff member as a producer who will work with you to prepare the Theater for a particular purpose. Your producer will be familiar with requirements and will assist you in creating the conditions for a successful learning experience.  The following are highlights of some of the unique considerations for use of the Learning Theater.


Advanced Planning

It is important to plan well in advance since The Learning Theater must be specially configured for each activity. We recommend a three to six month lead-time between placing an activity on the schedule and the actual event itself. Please be mindful of the Library priority deadlines stated previously.



Activities in The Learning Theater involve a variety of technologies, configurations, and setups. Please anticipate several rehearsals to work with the library technical team to refine the order of activities to produce a smooth and satisfying final experience.



Your producer will advise you about fees that may apply to an activity planned for the Learning Theater.  Eligible users, as defined by the College’s Room Assignment’s Policy, will not be assessed fees for events that 1) fall within the Libraries regular business hours and 2) are supported with baseline services.  For fall and spring, regular business hours are Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm and 9:00am to 1:00pm in the summer.  Baseline support services include pre-planning meetings with a producer, a set-up floor plan, lights, sound, audio-visual and at least one producer on site during the event.  Activities scheduled after regular business hours will be charged $150 an hour (4 hour minimum) for the portion of the activity that is outside of the Libraries regular business hours.  Services beyond those defined as baseline support services, such as production hours for audio or video recording, will also be charged $150 an hour.  However, these fees are not duplicative so if your activity is outside regular business hours and requests services beyond the baseline support services, the fee remains $150 an hour, not $300 an hour.  Outside organizations who have been granted an exception in writing by TC Senior Leadership and meets the criteria consistent with the mission of the College (please see the Room Assignments Policy for contract and insurance requirements) will be assessed a fee of $150 an hour. 


Research on Learning Environments

The Learning Theater is an ongoing experiment on optimizing space to support educational experiences. Various unobtrusive systems are operating in the background to generate data on how users are interacting with each other and resources in the space. The Library team is interested in collaborating with users on this work. 

Proposal Development

The Learning Theater offers some unique capacities and infrastructure that may be attractive to external funding agencies and the Library is eager to support efforts to secure such support. The Library staff is available to work with you in the preparation of proposals for external support for activities to take place in The Learning Theater, including proposals for the acquisition of specialized equipment to build on the Theater infrastructure. Please contact us via a Library Support Request to learn more about available resources and for support in developing grant budgets for equipment to extend the basic theater infrastructure to meet particular project needs.