What do you see happening in a learning commons?

Summary: For Murray (2015) a learning commons is not just an abstract idea or future aspiration, it is a buzzing, active and vital process that is actually taking place. In her article “Piloting the Learning Commons” published in the journal, Teacher Librarian, Murray explores the process she underwent while piloting a learning commons at her school. Murray experiences a successful transformation, and makes recommendations for creating such a space. Murray claims that for her, it is not a learning commons unless she can look around and see the excitement, engagement and myriad of creative and inventive activities happening simultaneously.

Opinion: I was hoping to get a little more into the nuts and bolts of how a school goes from not having a learning commons to developing one. The article seems to imply that as soon as the learning commons is there that students just automatically love it. I would have liked to learn more about some of the teaching, learning and planning that went into making this learning commons a success. That said, Murray makes a great rationale for having a learning commons and outlines some of the wonderful things that can happen there.

Murray, E. (2015). Piloting the Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(1), 18–24. Murray, E. (2015). Piloting the Learning Commons. Retrieved from: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true &db=ehh&AN=110469425&site=ehost-live&scope=site

On Being in Libraries

Lepine, Sierra


Miller, K. (2018). “On Being in Libraries.” Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/8/on-being-in-libraries

Fascinating article talking about conducting renovation and rebuilding of physical library space with student inquiry in mind. Written by academic librarian at the University of Miami, discussing a recent project involving University library/librarians, University faculty, students, and educational community members in a conversation about modern student needs and desires regarding both physical library space and intellectual/research processes. Ultimately came up with plans for a Learning Commons area in the library, newly built and designed to cater specifically to 21st century students needs in regards to individualized learning, creative inquiry, learning by doing, community-based knowledge building, etc.


Not only did I appreciate the discussion about how design thinking and inquiry can be used in terms of lesson planning and teaching, but also in terms of how to actually design a physical space! I also liked that article ended with an acknowledgement that now students request more quiet space in library, and a rueful acceptance that, while community learning is in vogue, it is still library’s responsibility to provide quiet and contemplative learning spaces for students, too!

Climbing to Excellence: Defining Characteristics of Successful Learning Commons

Khera, Michelle

Educational Theory and Practice (ET)

Loertscher, David V, & Koechlin, Carol. (2014). Climbing to Excellence: Defining Characteristics of Successful Learning Commons.(FEATURE). Knowledge Quest, 14.


This is an interesting article on what a learning commons is and the ever changing definition and idea of what a school library is and should be. I liked the emphasis on the different behaviors that might be seen in a learning commons, such as playing, creating, tinkering, building, making, experimenting, sharing, performing, producing, doing, constructing, connecting, accessing, and self-monitoring. I argue that reading still needs to be emphasized, because I worry that we will get too far away from the reading aspect of libraries, but overall, this is a super useful article relating to educational theory and I plan on taking it to my director in hopes of encouraging a learning commons on our school campus.

Next Generation Learning Space

Wilson, G. & Randall, M. (2012). The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: A pilot study, Research in Learning Technology, 20:2, 14431. DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.14431

This was a pilot study of the Pod Room, which is a next generation learning space. The research focused on the use of the space by academic staff and students. The researcher conducted surveys, observed classes and closely following the observations was an interview with each teacher.  The findings from this research indicated that there are learning benefits achieved by the use of a space like the Pod room.

Implementing Learning Commons

By: Amy Bush

Implementing Learning Commons

Kolod, L. & Ungar, B. (2016). A collaborative journey: The learning commons. Teacher Librarian. 43(4).

This was a very interesting article about how a school library went through reconstruction to become a learning commons. Kolod and Ungar discuss the process that the school went through including; grants, planning, physical transformation and curricular change. This article also addresses the importance of co-teaching and how it is an intricate piece of this school’s learning commons. I highly suggest reading this article because comprehensive and concise. 

Nicole Ogden

Palin discusses the value of a learning commons design but argues that there is a need to create quiet zones within the learning commons. While many students will benefit from the collaborative learning environment in a commons, the controlled chaos does not work for everyone. He offers not only a rationalization for the creation of quiet nooks but also offers concrete suggestions for how to create these spaces in the learning commons.


This article acknowledges the value of the learning commons but also draws attention to a population who is not always served by the commons design. He articulates the problem clearly and brings practical solutions  to the reader. A good resource for those who are interested in transitioning their library into a learning commons.

Genius Hour in the Library

Debbie Gibbons


Rush, E. B. (2015). Genius hour in the library. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 26-30. Retrieved from

This is a reflection by one elementary librarian on her first year of implementing a Genius Hour in her school library. Students in grades 3 – 5 were allowed to explore, research, or study any topic during their weekly library period. The librarian, the classroom teacher, and the students all had responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the process and progress. One key factor was to encourage the students to take risks and turn “failures” into learning opportunities. The article offers a checklist to implement a Genius Hour in your own school.


In the same way that students were encouraged to take risks, the author took on a new endeavor in starting a Genius Hour in her library. She admits that not everything was perfect, and there were things that she would do differently the second year. The checklist allows the reader to learn from the author’s missteps. I especially appreciate that she revealed that there were a handful of students who looked like they were diligently working all along and then had no work to show at the end of the project. She then offers a practical suggestion for how to better support those students the next year.

School Libraries and maker spaces

Shibrie Wilson

IL- Creative Thinking
ET- Standards-based Education
CA- Common Core Assessments
IL- Media Literacy

 Bell, J. (2015, May 12). School Librarians Push for More ‘Maker Spaces’ Retrieved May 19, 2016, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/13/school-librarians-push-for-more-maker-spaces.html

Summary: Term “maker space” has been added to vernacular of 21st century school libraries. These spaces allow student to interact and research different things in which some schools do not have part of their curriculum’s. With the large push of STEAM- science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics has encouraged the integration of a “maker space.” There are arguments as to whether the spaces are valuable, but scientist have not conducted quantitative research to provide this type of information. Issue with integrating make spaces into schools is that some districts are formal and have not adopted this type of ideology. Districts with such mindset are concerned with creating a space in which prepares students for standardized test and providing materials in which meet curriculum for each subject area. This poses a problem for administrators and librarians when defending reason as to why maker spaces are vital in school libraries. Common researchers are developing data in which provides information as to how student are developing skills that new standards require, specifically that of problem solving and critical thinking. The largest problem some librarians have faced, especially librarian in blog is that of time. Time is crucial and there is not enough for students to develop, construct, and create a large final project.

Reflection: Enjoyed reading this article considering that this is revolving discussion in libraries. How are maker spaces vital and what type of change is being implemented from this innovative idea. A problem that I see posed are those who have a traditional concept as to what library services involves, and will not want to branch out. Maker spaces in school libraries can allow collaborative opportunities for science and math teachers, opposed to typical usage from language arts and social studies teachers.

Pedagogy for Practical Library Instruction

Karla Morones


Montgomery, M. (2015). Pedagogy for practical library instruction. Communications In Information Literacy, 9(1), 19-23.

This article touches on the fact that many librarians have no background knowledge on educational theories.  The author gives personal experiences with her learning process and fish out of water feeling when she first started her position at an academic library.  The author explains how much knowledge a librarian really needs to know and how to obtain the knowledge to become effective instructors.


I very much enjoyed this article.  I felt the author was talking about my particular feelings and experiences.  I, too felt like fish out of water, and I appreciated her humor and tips on pedagogy. The author, much like I did, kept returning to constructivism theory as the best way for her to engage her students.  She had to begin teaching herself theory and pedagogy through books and journal articles.  She also joined organizations such as ALA, ACRL, Library Juice Academy, OCLC’s WebJunction, and others that provided both free and fee-based training via webinars and online classes. She then proceeded to focus her studies on this theory and began applying it to her classes.  She found student led activities had much better outcomes than other activity she had planned.  

New Routes to Library Success

Nadine Loza
Doucett, E. (2016). New routes to library success: looking outside of the library world to spark new ideas. American Libraries. March 42-45.
Summary: Doucett is the director of the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine.  She entered the library profession in 2004, from the business world.  In this article, Doucett makes the case for librarian professionals to look outside of the library world to understand how to evolve to meet the needs of today’s user.  She argues that without librarian professionals continually evolving to meet the needs of the 21st century user, we might soon see a time where libraries a disappearing from American cities.  To make her point, she uses the example of how she turned to Margot Atwell, the publishing outreach coordinator for Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is an online crowdsourcing platform.  Kickstarter provides ways for individuals to promote a project or a cause to gain donations.  Kickstarter success lies in the ways the site connects people, and allows them to get involved in projects they feel passionately about.  Doucett was inspired to reach out to Atwell, and came away with important implications for libraries.  She recommends that library professionals use promotional videos, games, and community outreach to promote their programs in new and exciting ways.  She urges the library world to evolve with today’s user, she warns that the very survival of American libraries may be at stake.

Evaluation: Doucett’s analysis and recommendations are very useful to consider.  She uses her own background in the business world to find innovative ways to promote libraries.  Her assessments about the future of American libraries might seem alarmist, however, current research on library use confirms that they are at a sharp decline.  As a future teacher librarian, I agree with Doucett.  Teacher librarians must continually adapt their marketing and programs to make their libraries a place teens want to be.  Many teacher librarians have already adapted traditional rules, and transformed their libraries into spaces where collaboration and technology are welcomed.  Following these trends, libraries will continue to have a secure place in American cities.