Skip to Main Content

WCPS Library Media Policies and Procedures Guide: LM Space Design

Library Media Facilities

Library Media

 ​Learning Space Design



Visit Library Facilities Design: Resources for School Librarians for more information and resources.

Learning Commons

Transforming traditional libraries into learning commons....

"...we must take a fresh look at both our physical and virtual spaces.  When learners enter the the school library learning commons, what do they see first?  Rows and rows of bookshelves?  A single controlled teaching area? Signage listing "don'ts"?  A couple pf couches within easy sight of the checkout desk?  A story rug with a rocking chair?  Is the space all about control?  Is the website just a one-way stream of information?"
     David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin, Climbing to Excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons. 

"The responsive nature of this approach to excellence in teaching and learning means that the journey will never end; but it is continuously morphing to address the current and future needs of learners and schools.  As our world continues to spin out new ways of working, playing, and learning together, one thing we can count on is the learning commons." 
     David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin, Climbing to Excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons.


"A great library shapes itself around its community not the other way around..." 
     The Atlas of New Librarianship by David Lankes
Why the name learning commons?
"It became clear that the focus of the transformed traditional library should be on learning in its many manifestations, whether formal or informal, and the word "commons" could reflect a shift from top-down organizational structure to the flat networked world where the clients, both teachers and students, consider themselves to be in command of knowledge building." 
     David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin, Climbing to Excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons.

Characteristics of Successful Learning Commons (from the article, Climbing to Excellence) 
1. A collaborative physical and virtual environment that invites and ignites participatory learning.
2. A responsive dynamic that is invested in school-wide improvement through an evidence-based process of design, modify, rethink, redesign, and rework.
3. Professionals who can successfully lead out front, or lead from the middle, or push from behind are great candidates to head a learning commons. 
4. Participatory learning through attention to excellent instructional design, using best resources and technologies, and building personal expertise and collaborative knowledge are the work of the learning commons. 
     David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin, Climbing to Excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons.


The Maker Movement

"To define a school makerspace by its purpose in in the simplest of terms, it is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests; learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual; and develop creative projects.  It should be envisaged and implemented as a concept that can adapt to a wide variety of uses, shaped not only by educational purposes defined by teachers or the school or the wider curriculum but also by students' own creative goals and interests."

"The maker movement encourages a growth mindset, which tolerates risk and failure and maybe even encourages it.  It is a truism that is nonetheless rarely acknowledged in formal education that failure is a necessary step on the road to success and innovation...  Learning through mistakes is very much encouraged." 

Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School by Laura Fleming 

Overarching themes for your makerspace need to be developed and might include:

  • Robotics
  • 3-D Printing and Design
  • Hacking/Remixing (web coding and computer programming)
  • Wearable Tech
  • Electricity
  • Engineering 

The tools that you select for your makerspace should inspire and allow for an environment rich with possibilities:

  • Legos
  • Raspberry Pi
  • 3-D printer
  • Makey Makey Kits
  • LittleBits
  • Arduino Boards
  • Robotic kits​​

Practical considerations for setting up your makerspace include the following:

  • Finding or creating a space with all the right utilities
  • Making sure that the space has plenty of electrical outlets conveniently placed tp reduce or eliminate extension cords
  • Ensuring good network accessibility with plenty of network nodes and/or an effective wi-fi network
  • If the choice of tools involved messy pursuits, then including sinks along with easily cleaned work surfaces and plenty of storage space is optimal, but not necessary

WCPS logo and vision


"Working together to provide resources and materials that support teacher instruction and student learning."