Transitions to the Learning Commons


In this room, we have provided a variety of examples of articles where the transition to a learning commons is happening and articles that further explain the concept. We invite you to sample, read, comment on the blog or at the bottom of this page, and contribute articles, and ideas of your own. Perhaps you have a story to tell about your own transitions that others might find very helpful.


In Theory

  • Lynn Hay describes the Australian perspective on transitioning to the iCentre (learning commons)
    Lynn Hay
  • Susan Faust and Jenny Howland describe the use of design thinking to hake a major transition in their school.
    Susan Faust and Jenny Howland
  • Shannon Robinson describes the transition to a learning commons in a high school in CT.
    Shannon Robinson
  • David V. Loertscher and Carol Koechlin explore the research as the foundation of the learning commons concept.
    David V. Loertscher and Carol Koechlin
  • Bruce White sets the background for the transition to learning commons as he examines his own experience.
    Bruce White

Elementary School

K-8 Schools

Middle Schools

  • Tamara Mitchell and Fran Potvin-Schafer describe their creation of a unique K-8 learning commons in Toronto Canada.
    Tamara Mitchell and Fran Potvin-Schafer
  • Sue Kowalski gives us a tour of her transition to a middle school learning commons in Syracuse New York.
    Sue Kowalski

High Schools

  • Valeri Diggs writes about her experience in Chelmsford, MA
    Valerie Diggs
  • Robin Cicchetti describes her transformation at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, MA
    Robin Cicchetti
  • Andrew Churches, noted ed tech professional, offers advice on the transition to a learning commons.
    Andrew Churches
  • Marc Crompton describes the transitions of five schools in Vancouver, B.C. toward learning commons.
    Marc Crompton
  • Paul Christensen describes two very successful programs coming from very different approaches.
    Paul Christensen
  • Pamela Harland describes her journey toward a learning commons in her New Hampshire high school.
    Pamela Harland


What’s Next?

Back to the Gallery; or, on to The Workshop

11 comments on “Transitions to the Learning Commons

  1. I like the separation of elementary, middle and high schools so that a visit to this section of the Gallery could target a specific area of interest. (nt)

    • I was going to say that as well. I don’t have to read through things that don’t pertain to my situation or are of no interest to me. (maw)

  2. I also liked that there was a separate category for Theory. As many educators know, what is taught in a theory course doesn’t necessarily carry-over to actual practice.

    Another category to consider is K-8 Schools. I’m currently teaching at a K-8 school and the librarian seems lost as to how to appeal to a broad range of children. The junior high students do not even come to the library! She, and many others, could certainly benefit from information about unique school combinations. There are also 6-12 schools and K-12 that have a lower and upper school. I’m sure that lower and upper schools would look at each category individually, but there could definitely be some great collaboration between the schools. Partner readings, group projects among the grades, mentoring and teaching programs, etc., are just some ideas that K-12 could certainly be implementing. (GG)

    • I work in a 6-12 school with both an upper and lower school library. In broaching the concept of a Learning Commons and a VLC with my head of school (middle), she recommended we focus on just the middle school LC. This was in part to avoid the too-many-cooks-in-one-pot scenario in which very little gets done. Her approach with everything is to just do it and then work out the kinks along the way. There is not much collaboration at all between the upper and lower school libraries except for the book cataloging process and a few shared display ideas. I like the idea of opening up the collaboration through the VLCs (at least in the Experimental Learning Center, which is all-school and maybe the iCenter (we share database resources), so this will be an interesting way to test a new collaboration. (JC, SLIS student)

      • We have four libraries in our district, two K-4 and two 5-8. There are three librarians and we collaborate all of the time. We love our PLC and get a lot done. It might be that it works because there are only three of us( not too many cooks!). We hope to get together this summer and create a district VLC and one for each site. (JR, SLIS student)

  3. This is great information to include at the beginning of the exploration. Educators are often hesitant to try new things because so much of what we’re told to learn and implement doesn’t last. Having real examples of how other schools have put the commons into place takes away some of that skepticism. (aj)

  4. I found the article by Shannon Robinson very inspiring. I kept having to stop and note her ideas in an email to myself to reference at school. It seems as though they have moved very quickly towards putting the students in charge at the library. I like how that has quickly transformed their library into the hub of the school instead of the forgotten book storage room.

    • I also enjoyed her article. You could tell how enthusiastic she is about her job. I liked what she said about media centers at the beginning of the article. ” Media Centers are transforming into areas of user-centric learning where self-discovery and collaboration take place daily”. I plan to utilize several of her ideas including a student production table and having all site textbooks available to students. The only thing I disagreed with was when she said the changes she made could have been done “regardless of monetary resources”. Many of the changes she made, like adding laptops, iPads, and diner booths, could not have been possible without money. (JR, SLIS student)

  5. The article by Sue Kowalski reminds us that we need to be reaching out to students and staff to promote our library programs. Kowalski states, “Quality outreach campaigns need to be ongoing, creative, and meaningful to their intended audiences”.
    Good advice!
    Jana Reveles, SJSU, MLIS student

  6. Agreed about the Robinson article. I love the diner booths and the moveable wall.
    I was struck also by Sue Kowalski’s overall energy and reminder that a school learning commons thrives on everyone’s participation. I also loved this passage:
    :Our library programming often has a community service focus. We stress the importance of “every little bit helps” and this year through our programs in the library we have donated more than $700, boxes of books, can tabs, and food items to the SPCA, Ronald McDonald House, Salva- tion Army, Success by 6, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Each time we have an event we bridge the connections between students and community organizations. These agencies now see our library as a force that can support them as they continue to move forward.”
    Here Kowalski harnesses the best aspects of a learning commons model to make connections to commnity organzations something that the center of a community just does. Very purposeful and clear.

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