16 Responses to more than comfy chairs

  1. Great post!

    I’m a learning commons teacher in Calgary and we have been transforming our library to learning commons over the past three years. One thing we have come to understand, is that it is the postion of the learning commons teacher that really helps with that transformation. Also another key part we are finding is that the staff and students need to be educated around the learning commons philosophy too. As we all begin to understand what the learning looks like in this amazing learning space, the better we are utilizing it to its potential.

    The addition of an extra staff member is a huge hurdle for a lot of school! It’s great to have posts like yours that highlight that importance.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Steve Clark

  2. Al Smith says:

    Awesome overview of a sophisticated and often misunderstood practice. I think like most things, change is unnerving so it generates anxiety and excitement. I find it interesting that BC, despite cuts, is again progressive. As I recently posted, http://ksslibrary.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/lc-design-is-more-than-arborite-and-chrome-its-acoustics-too/ my concern is that the function gets lost in the form. If he organic nature of programs is not considered, shiny facade, no matter how nice is not sustainable or ethical use of funds. What is exciting, is that there are school, college and public programs vibrant enough in old clothes to strife for a refurbished more effective model. 🙂 thx it is so reassuring to have a voice of wisdom and clarity so near the top. Take care

  3. Moira Ekdahl says:

    Hi Jacqueline

    Vancouver TLs were delighted that you were able to attend our recent Winter Tonic.  I have forwarded to our VTLA members both your note of thanks and your blogpost.  

    The conversation amongst TLs on the BCTLA Ning has been lively; it is typical of the professional commitment of those who work to keep pace in school libraries with the changing nature of learning.  We are certainly grappling with the demand for and challenges of dynamic learning spaces and responsive programs. We appreciate your support and encouragement for our creating workable environments that enable students and school staffs to explore technology-enhanced and collaboratively designed learning in managed and manageable contexts with a goal of ensuring engagement and quality programs.  Given the demand for what we are developing, your voice in support of qualified and sufficient TL staffing in a school-wide and respectful process will be important.

    I agree and know well from experience:  “The role is multi-faceted, challenging, ever-evolving, and ultimately highly rewarding because the impact can be so significant.”  As well, I agree:  “The magic happens when the facilitated space brings in kids who wouldn’t otherwise see themselves in, or feel comfortable in, a traditional library. A learning commons is more inclusive and relevant. A learning commons does not reduce the impact of a library; in fact, it expands it, and takes it to new places and new people.”  it is clear to me that, while we create new possibilities for many learners, what we do is perhaps most important for those who are too often sidelined by constraints of socioeconomics, ability, and other factors that impair equitable access to learning. There is no question that we are undertaking an important learning project but the lack of shared understandings, as pointed out by the Calgary LC Teacher, about our spaces and roles requires attention to both the process of transformation and the professional protocols, as Al has so clearly identified.

    Thank you again for joining us both at Winter Tonic and in the on-going conversation.

    Sent from my iPad

    Moira Ekdahl

    • It’s my pleasure to be a part of the conversation, Moira. Thank you for your thoughtful and articulate comments. I am so very appreciative of your patient and generous sharing of wisdom and experience!

  4. Kevin Stranack says:

    Hi Jacqueline,

    Fantastic! The word that stood out to me in your post, and in some of the comments, is — “conversations”. I’ve always thought of librarians (myself included) as builders of connections to knowledge. Often that connection has been between a person and the knowledge contained within a book. But another kind of powerful connection is between a person who wants to know something and someone that knows something about it — brought together in a conversation of learning. While connecting people to books will continue to be an important role for librarians, bringing people together, facilitating conversation, is increasingly important. And with emerging online social networking tools, building these connections is more possible than ever.


  5. An eloquent defense of the continuing relevance of the library to the contemporary BC classroom. Thank you for being such an passionate spokesperson!

    I particularly appreciate the balance you strive for in your description of a library/learning commons, a space that strives both to maintain its core mission of supporting literacy and to embrace learning technologies.

    In my own case, yes, I try to make my library a digital hub for students (a cart of Chromebooks, tutorials on cloud storage, a lab devoted to Adobe Creative Suite, etc.), but in the dark hours of the night, when the glow of all the digital fun I’ve had earlier in the day has faded, I am confronted by the fact that reading comprehension remains the most significant challenge for BC students and that libraries/learning commons must keep their focus on addressing that concern.

    Goodness knows, I’ve taught enough students how to take a project all the way from research to youblisher.com, but that success must be measured against some hard numbers. According to “A New Focus on Reading” from the BC Ed Plan site, 46% of grade 7 students are reading below grade level. I’ve run all my grade 9 students through STAR assessments and the numbers get worse as the students get older.

    And that’s why for all the excellent and much needed talk of digital literacy, of helping kids navigate the data smog, of showing them how to manage their digital footprint, etc., I don’t think the fundamental mission of school libraries has changed: to support and develop early childhood literacy and adolescent reading comprehension. It is that mission, more than any technology initiative I can dream up, that makes the library supremely relevant to the life of my school community.


  6. maryakem says:

    Teacher-Librarianship is at the centre of the Commons movement. Where other librarians are out to ‘toss out the ref desk’.. TLs have never worked that way. Where the higher ed libraries try to eek out a place in assessment TLs are well underway. A commons is not about space as you so rightly put it.. The shift is critically important and a powerful gift from the lighthouse traditions around Teacher-librarianship — an extensively rich BC – incarnation of the profession.

  7. Here, in Quebec, the Learning Commons idea doesn’t seem to have taken hold yet. With our educational reform, I think that it would work well. I also think that it would revitalize libraries as the heart of any school. As you say so well, it’s an attitude and not necessarily just another changing around of the furniture.

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Ellen. So true that the learning commons model is a terrific match with new ways of approaching the education system to meet the needs of learners for the 21st century. All my best wishes for Quebec school libraries!

  8. Pingback: The Learning Commons – More Than Comfy Chairs – QSLiN

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