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.