Libraries to Learning Commons

Welcome Everyone!

There’s a lot of parts to transforming a library to a learning commons. In all of this work the biggest single thing to remember is that it’s a philosophy and not about a space.

Let’s begin with the end in mind. Consider this Rubric.

The pathway…


Managing Change

It’s important to understand a few fundamentals of change management. This process is a big one!  Here’s a presentation I use related to the work in change management and learning commons.


  1. Have you visited a thriving learning commons at the same grade level that you support?
    1. In Southern Alberta consider Turner Valley School,
    2. Dr. Morris Gibson School or
    3. Heritage Heights School.
    4. This list will be added to over time.
  2. What do you know about Gino Bondi’s work or Koechlin, Rosenfeld and Loertscher work concerning building a Learning Commons?
  3. Consider people that want to learn in Collaborative ways.
  4. Review and learn about the learning commons philosophy using the many great resources available online.
    1. The Learning Commons Policy supports the principles and values of Inspiring Education, the Ministerial Order on Student Learning, and Curriculum Redesign and is aligned with the Government of Alberta Collaborative Library Policy (2014).  The Learning Commons Policy and Learning Commons Guidelines help bring the goals outlined in Inspiring Education to life in schools.
    2. From School Library to Library Learning Commons:  A Pro-active Model for Educational Change 2014 – BCTLA
    3. Implementing Library Transformation : Creating a Learning Commons – Chinook’s Edge
    4. Learning Commons Core Research – Rockyview
    5. Leading Learning – Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada – 2014
    6. Learning Commons Website – The School Learning Commons Knowledge Building Center created by David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin
    7. Library Learning Commons – What does a school staff need to know about Learning Commons? – Learning Guidelibrary to learning commons – Implementation Guide – CBE
    8. Voices for School Libraries
    9. 20 Things Educators Need to Know about Learning Spaces21st-Century Libraries: The Learning Commons | Edutopia
    10. Climbing to Excellence – May 2014
    11. The Journey from Library to Learning Commons – Always Learning with @R_H_Steele
    12. Learning Commons: The library of the 21st Century
    13. School Libraries Shelve Tradition to Create New Learning Spaces
    14. What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like?


  1. Share your enthusiasm for Learning Commons and what it does to support kids and their learning!
    1. With your admin team
    2. With teachers that use the library “with” you
    3. With parent volunteers
  2. Learn how other Librarians have transformed their spaces
    1. Connect with Rock Stars – there’s lots of them!!
    2. Use Pinterest to search for ideas you can do tomorrow (search for maker space or Learning Commons)
    3. Interview someone that’s successful and ask for their story…

  3. Make a plan…
    1. It’s a draft… but get started if you’re serious. It will change as you learn more.
    2. Begin with a personal vision – what does it mean to you be a Learning Commons Facilitator instead of a Librarian?
    3. Use the resources provided above to gain a deep understanding of the learning commons philosophy
    4. Share your challenge with decision-makers (help others move to awareness)
    5. Surround yourself with a community
    6. Connect online with other like-minded folks (Try a Google Hangout and have coffee with a new friend!)
  4. Figure out first steps – what can you do to start??
    1. Weed some books? What’s your plan to complete the work?
    2. Who and what do you need to put wheels on your shelving?
    3. Consider changing the layout of your library to embrace “spaces” for learning –
      1. where’s the quiet space,
      2. where’s the tinker space,
      3. where’s the celebratory space,
      4. where’s the collaborative space?
  5. Consider a shift in how you work in your space
    1. Can volunteers or students help with your spaces?
    2. Some librarians have had students “adopt a shelf“.
  6. Consider how you might create time to work on your physical, virtual and community spaces


Commitment is a shift from thinking to doing… from thought to action.

Get started…

  1. Nearly every successful implementation of Learning Commons I’ve been a part of started with weeding of books. You’ve made a plan, know who you need to help, know where the books are going to go… Now set a date and do it…
  2. Every community has someone that is great at wood work… additionally, high school programs often have woodworking as a part of their processes. Enlist someone to make you some shelves that help make your spaces flexible and agile.
  3. curved-library-shelving.jpg
  4. Learn some digital tools
    1. Create QR Codes
    2. Complete a Google Hangout
    3. Make a Video of Your Learning Commons and post it on our community site


When you get here… you’re on your way. Believers have lived the experience of what it takes to make their libraries into learning commons. Believers are excited about what it can do for kids and their learning. Believers help others move from thought to action by sharing what they know and adding to the movement.

If you believe you’re a believer, what’s the evidence…

  1. Are you actively engaged in your online community?
  2. Are you building the capacity of others
  3. Are you working on the work – consider the rubric of a high functioning Learning Commons – where are you at and how are you going to get there.