Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Finding Commons Ground

Posted by lpearle on 5 March 2013

Is it an information commons or a knowledge commons or a learning commons?  That’s less a question than what one exactly is: does adding a makerspace to your library mean that you’re now a “commons”?  What about redesigning to include collaborative spaces?

The other week I attended a HVLA meeting where two librarians discussed what their schools are doing.  Sarah Couri is the new librarian at the new upper school division of Grace Church School, and Susan Harris is the librarian at Harvey School.  Sarah’s had some input into the design of the new space, and is growing the program as the division grows (right now they have only a 9th grade); Susan’s library is in a long-term (since the 70s) temporary space and her school is redesigning and rethinking the space and the program.  Both spoke about the challenges they’re facing, particularly vis-a-vis administrative insight into the idea of a [something] commons and how the technology department and library department interact.

At the end of the discussion, Judith James at Friends Academy asked for people to share resources, as her administration seems to have the idea that an commons means moving towards a Cushing Academy model (it doesn’t).  Being the packrat that I am, I had saved several elist posts and articles that can help those in the same situation as Judy, needing help explaining what a commons is, how to get there and what the benefits to a school are:

From what I can see, there is no one way to create a commons, and there are many discussions to have and decisions that need to be made before heading in that direction.  That’s not to suggest that schools shouldn’t move towards a facility that includes more collaborative, creative, differentiated spaces – far from it.  It means that this new idea is one that few people in the administration fully understand (but know it’d be cool to have!) and that we librarians need to do our best to help guide them to make the best decisions possible for the school and students.

Feel free to share your favorite resources – I’ll add them to this post.

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