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

Piloting the Learning Commons

DeLuca, Allison


Murray, E. (2015). Piloting the Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(1), 18–24. 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


This article discusses using learning commons in the process of co teaching and collaboration between classroom teachers and teacher librarians. The article is told by a classroom teacher who works with the media specialist in her school in order to introduce her students to the learning commons and use it as a productive space for learning. The teacher realized the excitement that the children had when introduced to the learning commons and saw the potential for her students. The article emphasizes the importance of putting aside time for collaboration and the success that comes from collaborating with a media specialist in the school. The author gives details on her personal collaboration process with the librarian in order to give an idea on how to successfully collaborate in order to benefit students.


I feel as though this article is helpful for encouraging schools to transform library spaces into learning commons as well as encouraging classroom teachers to work towards collaboration with school librarians or media specialists. Collaboration is a key to success when it comes to the achievement of students. Also, the highlighting of the learning commons space was also a significant part of this article. Learning commons allow for students to be more creative and have more freedom when it comes to inquiry and learning. Current library spaces in schools have the potential to be transformed into learning commons in order to not only encourage student use, but to encourage collaboration between staff.

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 http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=2236d0f1-afb3-4b05-858d-ef03fb614de7%40sessionmgr4006

(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.

A Review of the 2018 AASL Standards

Sasaki, Lori


Loertscher, D.V. (2018). A Review (National School Library Standards — AASL). Teacher Librarian, 45(3), p. 36-48. Retrieved from http://teacherlibrarian.com/2018/02/08/dr-david-v-loertscher-reviews-the-new-aasl-standards/

This is a lengthy and detailed review and analysis of the new AASL 2018 standards. The review points out a few strengths, namely that the standards address inquiry in more detail, and many, many areas of concern. Some areas of concern that stand out include the role of the library in affecting learning in the greater school vision, the lack of a central role for technology, and the absence of free and independent reading. For all of the concerns, there is also a section with recommendations for “thinking ahead.”

This article should be required reading for anyone working in school libraries, whether they have tried to make sense of the new AASL standards or not. Underlying the entire review is the sense of urgency for the profession to demonstrate the indispensability of the role of teacher librarians and school libraries in a time when their existence is being questioned. The recommendations push teacher librarians to think deeply and critically about their role in learning, to imagine what learning can look like, and to create learning commons for 21st century learners.

A Collaborative Journey: The Learning Commons

Stallings, Tayci


KOLOD, L., & UNGAR, B. (2016). A Collaborative Journey The Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(4), 22-27. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=114825284&site=ehost-live&scope=site

The article discusses the collaboration of teachers and librarians in creating a new way to deliver library skills. It cites that integrating technology into the fiber of how teachers and students learn and need to be accomplished on a fixed schedule. It also presents the collaborative efforts to guide the students learn the crossover activities which began in research.

This article has a good example of this particular schools journey.

How This School Library Increased Student Use By 1000 Percent

Christina Young

Gonzalez, Jennifer. (2016). How this school library increased student use by 1000 percent.  Cult of Pedagogy, transcript retrieved from: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/episode-38/  

In this podcast a principal and an administrator from Ohio are interviewed about their transformation of an underused library to a widely used “learning center”. Highlights include personalized learning prescriptions and flexible spaces.

The reason I tagged this under collaboration / co-teaching is because on of the red flags for me about this article was how their model of co-teaching had very little to do with common teaching and planning and seemed to me like the media specialist was less a collaborating teacher and more of an instructional babysitter. I am really interested in how people balance this in their own libraries.

One of the major things our library is used for is for teachers to bring whole classes for a week or more at a time so that the classroom teacher and the librarian can co-teach units often with different stations. This is what teachers in my school want to do and it is also what I was hired to do, but reading about other schools, like this one in Ohio, where students from all different classes come with a “prescription” for what they are working on seems exciting and useful too. That would allow more teachers (and hence students) to use the library in the context of what they are already doing (rather than as a special unit), but it would also limit the teachers who love the co-teaching model. I worry that in a model like the learning center in Ohio, the teacher librarian is instructional babysitting but not really co-teaching in a meaningful way.

KOHOUT, J., & GAVIGAN, K. (2015). The Years of Our Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 18-23. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=111875239&site=ehost-live&scope=site

The following article discusses the journey from inspiration to innovation as several librarian are inspired by our own professor David Loertscher.  This article discusses how two librarians who had attended a conference decided they were going to implement what they learned in their own school district. It outlines their project from the idea stage to full implementation within several libraries within their district and what they did in order to bring their idea to life.

What to expect from libraries in the 21st-century

Kourtney Andrighetto


What to expect from libraries in the 21st-century: Pam Sandlian Smith at TEDxMileHigh (December 16, 2013). TEDx Talks. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa6ERdxyYdo

In this TED talk, Pam Sandlian views the evolving role of libraries in the 21st-century through the lens of empathy and compassion and supports the belief that libraries are more essential to build community than ever before. Sandlian Smith provides examples of how libraries are the hub of communities and encouraging patrons to create, innovate, and dream. She provides a brief tour of her library in Colorado and an overview of the various programs available to patrons in efforts to build a community of life-long learners.

This is truly an inspirational video to view and reiterates why libraries are essential in building communities of innovation and compassion. One crucial point that Sandlian Smith makes is how the mission of libraries is to create happiness before education. This idea can be applied to educational theories that support developing the whole child rather than focusing strictly on academic developments. If people feel unappreciated, ignored, and unsafe in their environment, how can learning possibly take place? I highly recommend this resource to anyone who supports this philosophy.

The Blended Librarian in the Learning Commons

Andrighetto, Kourtney

ET- Blended Learning, Learning Commons
IL- 21st-Century Learning

Sinclair, B. (2009). The blended librarian in the learning commons: New skills for the blended library. College & Research Libraries News, 70(9), 504-516.

According to Steven Bell and John Shank, the term “blended librarian” is what 21st-century librarians must aspire to in order to remain relevant, which is taking more initiative to immerse themselves in co-teaching opportunities, unit planning, and thinking as the user, or “design thinking.” The blended librarian must develop technology literacies and learn how to use and teach emerging technologies to enhance instruction and learning. This article also addresses how blended librarians may function within a learning commons library model. This article is an informative resource explaining the role of librarians in the 21st-century learning commons and how technology integration is imperative to the sustainability of libraries.