Here, a K-12 Learning Commons is a one of a kind hybrid of a library, computer lab, workshop, coffee house and hotel lobby.  
It transforms a traditional library from rows of books and study tables into various activity hubs, that may include but are not limited to: 
  • Cultural Hub;
  • Informational / Inquiry Hub;
  • Project-based Hub, and;
  • Professional / Community Learning Hub.
A Learning Commons is designed with fixed and mobile learning zones, that may include but are not limited to:
  • print and digital media resources;
  • technology hardware and software;
  • tools and making materials, and;
  • hard and soft furniture.
Note - You may also see the phrase, "Library Learning Commons" as many schools may want to retain the word, "Library" in their title. Here, we are going to just use the term, Learning Commons.
The former Library, transformed to the Quest Center, Frontier High School, Bakerfield, CA
Overview - The Learning Commons is the School's Cultural Hub

The Learning Commons replaces "Shhhh" in the library with both formal and informal school and community activities. By design, it's the definitive CENTER of activity for the school. The Learning Commons harkens back to the large village bonfire or can be a number of smaller campfires; it's the gathering' place for individuals, small groups and large groups to learn and/or socialize. It is in this spirit of community where school culture is born, nurtured, and sustained.
  • Gathering Space
  • Personal Spaces
  • Collaborative Spaces
  • Showcases for School Curriculum/Activities
  • Cafe
  • Community Meetings
Informational / Inquiry Hub

Libraries have been defined first in their role of supporting traditional literacy that has evolved into our digital age with information literacy, media literacy and digital literacy. In the twenty-first century, the Learning Commons embraces both analog and digital media and provides the school a flagship of transliteracy for all students and staff.
  • Concept of Transliteracy
  • Library Books and Reference Materials
  • Online Resources
  • Desktop Computers
  • Genius Bar/Student Technology Support
  • School Website and School/District Online Resources
  • IT Collaboration /School Technology staff / 
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Space - Part III of this book
Project-based Hub

One of the most exciting developments that progressive Librarians have brought into their domain is the entire concept of project-based learning. The Learning Commons is now a place with dedicated spaces for technology and tools where students can inquire, design, tinker and make all kinds of things. The Learning Commons is often the place where the first sparks of integrated studies begins with the Librarian and teachers coming together for co-teaching a lesson or unit of study.
Professional / Community Learning Hub

In the last decade K-12 education has progressed past staff and professional development to professional learning. Hopefully, most of top-down district central office agendas have been replaced with site-based curriculum and pedagogical strategies for the adults leading the learning. This shift has helped transform the 'meeting mindset' to a professional learning community (PLC). 

Learning Commons' are often designed so that the main floor furniture and A/V screen display technology are mobile and modular that can be repurposed to hold a large audience from the entire staff to a local community meeting. The Learning Commons is often the perfect space for the PLC to have the large bonfire or breakout smaller campfires. Larger presentation A/V displays also play a role to effectively mirror two or more visual images as one, or breakout single displays for smaller group work.
  • Learning Standards / Content
  • Constructivist Model
  • Co- Teaching
  • Integrated Studies
  • Curriculum Mapping
  • Community Group Meetings
  • Mobile and Modular Furniture
  • LED/Video Screen Displays
Learning Zones-

In the previous chapter on learning studios I talked about creating micro learning spaces within the traditional classroom. T
he original design of most school libraries provides the largest interior physical space to be designed into various spatial zones to organize this hubbub into eclectic and purposeful groups of learners. 
Learning Commons zones may include, but are not limited to the following areas:
    Gathering Spot 
    • First stop for a class or group entering from the outside. The jump off with maybe some logistics or initial instructions by the Librarian or Teacher before students disperse to different zones.

    • Entry soft benches and furniture

    • Charging Zone - Power and USB stations

    • Kiosk/Digital Signage Display Spaces
    Circulation Desk and/or Tech Support Bar
    • Book check out

    • Mobile Devices check out

    • Student run tech support
    Bookshelves - Fixed Wall Mounted
    • Bookshelves moved to walls to maximize floor space zones and secured to walls for general and earthquake safety
    Bookshelves - Mobile 
    • Mobile bookshelves with heavy duty casters for flex space movement

    • Mobile bookshelves must be low to mid-height level

    • Feature both straight and curved models
    Cafe - (Secondary Schools) - snacks allowed or not allowed
    • Sometimes part of Gathering Zone

    • Sitting and Standing Cafe Tables with Stools

    • Booth Seating

    • Usually a non-carpet zone
    Soft Furniture - Lounge Seating
    • Single Lounge Seat

    • Double Lounge Seat (still often called a love seat)

    • Triple Lounge Seat (or simply, a couch)

    • Soft Stools, Benches, Ottomans
    Personalized Nooks
    • Sprinkled throughout the Learning Commons

    • Individual and Small Group Study Spaces

    • Occasional Tables

    • Rocking Chairs

    • Mid and High back Cove Seating

    • Booth Seating

    • Privacy Pods
    A/V Huddle Tables -
    • Sprinkled throughout the Learning Commons

    • LED Flat Panel Screen (typically 50" - 75") mounted on a mobile screen cart

    • Two 24"x60" Rectangle Flip and Nest Tables

    • One 48" Quarter-Round Flip and Nest Table

    • Tables may have power grommets

    • 4-6 Task Chairs or Stools (if tables are stand height)
    Geometric Teaming Tables
      • Sprinkled throughout 

      • Geometric Tables w/ power that come together for group work

      • Tables and chairs should have caster wheels for easy repurpose of space and often are housed on the main floor
      Desktop Computers / Media Studio
      • Computer Tables with cord management

      • Desktop computers with essential processing capabilities and large computer screen displays

      • Adobe Suite of content creation software apps

      • Cad/Cam software apps

      • Microsoft Office Suite of software apps
      Media Campfire
      • U Shaped and two-tiered hard and soft seating booth. Top Tier usually has stool seating with a flat work surface. The lower tier is soft seating with no built-in work surface.

      • Usually used with fixed wall mounted AV displays

      • Need to consider this is a heavy piece of furniture that is not mobile. Need to find a fixed space to place in the Learning Commons.

      • Tools, Technology and Materials for designing, assembling and building things

      • Tables and Stools appropriate for making projects
        • Space for a whole class of students

        • Space for groups of students from other classrooms to work on a project

        • Mobile and Modular desks and chairs to create a variety of large or small group set ups

        • Tablet Arm Chairs w/ casters

        • Nesting Tables w/Task Chairs

        • AV Fixed Wall Mount Displays

      Learning Commons Resources 

      Learning Environment Design (LED)
      Learning Commons Spotlight

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