Library Learning Commons

Morlan, Meaghan


Boutcher, L. (2015). 8 essential ingredients for your learning commons. Retrieved from 

Summary: Concise breakdown of what a learning commons is and what each learning commons should provide. School libraries should not only offer access to information, but a space for collaboration and creativity. There is also a link to Dr. Loertscher’s companion website for his book The New School Learning Commons.

Evaluation: This article is very brief, but I believe that it is an excellent starting point for those just beginning to learn what a “learning commons” is and what it should look like. I also really like that it has links to further resources throughout the article.

Finding a Balance

Elizabeth (Betsy) Snow

Fontichiaro, K. (2016). Inventing products with design thinking: Balancing structure with open-ended thinking. (LIBRARY MAKERSPACES). Teacher Librarian, 44(2), 53.


If you have struggled at all with maintaining a critical learning space in your library or Media Center, this article sheds perspective on how important checks and markers can add the necessary structure to tinker time.

With an actual example of student-led research on something as simple as finding the perfect bag, Fontichiaro shows how educators can add meaning to the students’ design thinking.

Learning Commons as a Catalyst for Instructional Partnerships

Kinsella, Jason

(ET) Educational Theory and Practice

Burress, R., Atkins, C., & Burns, C. (2018). Learning commons as a catalyst for instructional partnerships. Teacher Librarian, 45(4), 28-31. Retrieved from

(Log on to your SJSU King Library account for the link above to work.)

Libraries and school librarians must evolve as technology, society, schools and education evolve. This article outlines the Future Ready Librarians’ framework, which details eight principles in which school librarians should be proficient. This articles boasts the innovative and participatory nature of learning commons. It also encourages school librarians to build “instructional partnerships.” The natural connections between learning commons and coteaching is explored, and the benefits of coteaching are detailed.

This text explains to readers how libraries are currently evolving, and it provides guidelines for young and older librarians alike in how to ensure that library services are meeting the needs of 21st-century students and schools. This is an insightful well-researched article. For those of us not yet working in a school library, this article shows us what we need to be prepared to do. And for those already working in a school library, this article can be used as a tool in assessing the current and future state of one’s library.

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.

Coteaching and the Learning Comons

Alpers, Jessica

ET-Educational Theory and Practice

Loertscher, D. V., & Koechlin, C. (2015). Coteaching and the learning commons: Building a participatory school culture. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 12.

Summary: The focus of this paper is to inform on how to build a school culture with emphasis placed on participation. The two strategies used to accomplish this are creating a learning commons and instituting collaboration and coteaching with the librarian and teachers. Dr. Loertscher defines coteaching as “the art of two or more mentor adults who plan, teach, and assess a learning experience together.” This is then supported with a study he conducted. A learning commons is then described, much like we have described in our workshops. Adding to this, the collaboration is described. One specific not is the use of the 18 think models, and moving past “bird units.” The paper concludes by stating that this movement will strengthen the school as a learning force.

Evaluation: This paper is a wonderful source for a summary of what many of our workshops have discussed. None of the information is new, however it is a good review and a good resource. For those wishing to have a written form of what we have discussed, or a compiled summary, I would highly recommend this article. It does not hurt that it was written by our very own Dr. L.!

A Collaborative Journey: The Learning Commons

Amanda Rude


KOLOD, L. k., & UNGAR, B. b. (2016). A Collaborative Journey The Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian43(4), 22-27. Retrieved from

This article takes the reader though one school’s Journey from a traditional library to a 21st century learning commons.  Outlined in particular is the planning, research and collaboration that went into the process.  the end product is truly amazing and is an idyllic representation of the the learning commons.

Love the Library: Make It a Game

Post by Lora Poser-Brown
Squires, T. (2016). “Engaging students through gamification.” American libraries. March 1, 2016.
Overview: After instituting a game based library reading and writing program, the school library attained an 80% student participation level. Since the program was entirely voluntary, the success has been attributed to the opportunity to compete, collaborate, build non-classroom relationships with school staff, and the simple please of playing a game.
Analysis: The school library made itself a relevant, enjoyable place to be by making learning and exploring the library a game. While creating the game was labor intensive, the success was well worth the effort in staff eyes. Furthermore, the improvement in school morale and quality relationships has been viewed positively by the school community.

Changing the Conversation about Librarians: A TEDx talk by Mark Ray

Jeff Johnston

Ray, Mark.  (June, 2016) “Changing the Conversation about Librarians” TEDxElCajonSalon.

Summary:  How do we move from the librarian of the past (shhhh!) to the librarian of the future.  What skills does (s)he possess?  What does the library of the future look like?  In CA, less than 10% of the schools have specialized librarians.  What can school librarians do for a school?  Connecting librarians to the strategic plans, staff development, technology implementation, and curriculum of the school and district creates an invaluable resource.

Evaluation:    Teacher librarians are an essential element for a successful school.  Being in a school and district in the midst of a 1:1 technology device implementation, Ray’s advice is timely:  librarians are teachers.  We have to be on the forefront of digital citizenship, information literacy, and curricular integration.  I really love the idea of a tech “Genius Bar.”

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.

Essential Librarian Skill: Writing

Aubree Burkholder


Griffin, M. (2016, September). Essential Librarian Skill: Writing » Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from

Informative article about writing being the basis for all forms of communication. This article outlines the many reasons why it is essential for all librarians to possess stellar writing skills.

I enjoyed this article because I have always felt that strong writing skills are something that all librarians and educators should possess, and with the continuous advent of new technologies, I feel that many of these professionals may feel that this skill is of less importance than it used to be. I think it is wonderful that there are still professionals who feel that strong writing abilities are vital to performing their roles and serving the community.