School Libraries and Innovation

Debbie Gibbons

ET – Understanding by Design

McGrath, K. G. (2015). School libraries & innovation. Knowledge Quest, 43(3), 54-61. Retrieved from

The Common Core Standards call for a shift to process and problem-solving. There is a movement to transition traditional school libraries into learning commons. This article proposes a model that combines both trends by engaging students in design thinking and evidence-based practice to transform a school library space. Students interviewed users of the library to develop empathy and define needs. They brainstormed creative solutions and then return to the users for feedback. Working in groups, the students built prototypes of one or more of their designs and shared them with the clients, leading to further revision. After gathering feedback from students, faculty, and the community, design groups read the latest research to identify local libraries where innovation had been embraced and visited those sites. By engaging in learning with purpose, students were motivated to become design experts. The article goes on to describe the essential learning spaces and the role of the librarian in innovative libraries.

This article explains the concepts of design thinking illustrated by concrete examples of student learning. In a school where a learning commons already exists, this practice could be applied to many other projects. It could also adapted on a smaller scale to younger grade levels. I found this article to be a good combination of theoretical and practical.

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