Theory and Practice

It is wise to get your head around a wide range of ideas about the role and function of the Library Learning Commons in the school and how it differs in major ways from the traditional library and its program. Here are a few ways to do that and to share with those around you who are helping to envision and plan the transformation. The important thing is that the Library Learning Commons concept is not a destination, but a journey that is never finished... always in transition as it adapts to the needs of learners, teachers, and administrators.

Concept article to read and share: Loertscher, David V. and Carol Koechlin. "Climbing to Excellence: Defining Characteristics of Successful Learning Commons." Knowledge Quest, 2015. Attached at the bottom of this page.

Book Excerpt:
Loertscher, David V., Carol Koechlin, Sandi Zwaan, and Esther Rosenfeld. The New Learning Commons Where Learners win!: Reinventing School Libraries and Computer Labs. 2nd ed., Learning Commons Press, 2011.  The Introduction and chapter 1 of this book is attached below.  The first edition appeared in 2008. It is available in print or ebook format from 
Take a free QuickMOOC short course by yourself or in a group: Why and How Libraries of Many Kinds Are Making the Transition to a Learning Commons. Created by David V. Loertscher and graduate students at San Jose State University. at:

YouTube Video

  • Lecture.  Watch this 30 minute lecture from Dr. Ross Todd a the Treasure Mountain Research Retreat in Columbus Ohio, Nov. 2015 about the foundational elements of the concept of learning commons. See it at:
Sir Ken Robinson makes sense and keeps pounding away at the need for children and young people to experience creativity and be more involved in the design of what they should know and be able to do.  Here is a summary of his recent address at: 

He also has numerous speeches on YouTube that are worth checking out.

Local Challenge

One of the first steps in any school is to get everyone's head around the concept of a library learning commons as a place not just to consume knowledge and function as a warehouse, but also a center for creating knowledge in the school community. The documents above are a good first introduction but there are also more and more video tours, articles  and other resources available to jump start the idea. You might also look for sites in your area where you can send a team of observers.  The impact of such a place is a local opportunity rather than some nebulous top down national  initiative with a tight set of standards and accompanying assessments. The library learning commons concept is always in beta and moves along and improves as a participatory community being led by  a school team of visionaries and with lots of input from the students themselves.

The challenge here is to build a solid concept in your school or district that makes sense with the aims and goals of the district. Every hint in school goals of creative thinking, critical thinking, making, experimenting, personalized instruction, genius hours, technology initiatives, blended learning and many other concepts can be a part of your library learning commons initiative. Hook this wagon to the stars already in your school plan and you are much more likely to succeed than if you propose one more layer of organization over the top of everything else.  Go for it!

David Loertscher,
Jul 15, 2016, 12:07 PM
David Loertscher,
Jul 15, 2016, 2:45 PM