Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Beautiful Example

Hyman, S. C. (2014). Planning and creating a library learning commons. Teacher Librarian, 41(3), 16-21.

This is a beautiful article; I am fighting the urge to copy it verbatim for my Vision assignment. Shannon Hyman details her district’s process of building a LEED-Certified Elementary School and creating a Learning Commons with great deliberateness. Intentionality, beauty, literacy, and connection run through this process and presumably the space itself. Hyman writes that “planning a center of teaching and learning means restructuring existing notions about libraries as storage spaces and constructing a vision of the space as a scaffold to support both formal and informal learning experiences simultaneously.” (Hyman, 2014, p.16). She offers specific examples of seating choices, marine-grade fabrics, foldable tables; she also shows clearly how students use the space and how this use is purposeful, readily adaptable to different learning purposes, and aligned with the school’s goals. This purposeful alignment shows in her statement that planning followed the 

“AASL Standards for the 21st-century Learner in Action (2009) and our school's inaugural initiatives, which include the precepts that learning is cooperative, empowering, active, and meaningful. Our planning team knows intuitively that in order to maintain the integrity of this vision and create a culture of readers, we must tend to the space, the furnishings, the collection, and most of all the people. We make every decision based on three distinct priorities-people, flexibility, and durability-knowing that the core of our learning community requires a learning commons. Our LLC is not a storage place for books and equipment with limited accessibility. Students are greeted with a series of posters that remind them that in this space we think deeply, speak gently, read widely, and work hard.” (Hyman, 2014, p. 17)”

Hyman goes on to describe the power of collaboration and the primacy of literacy in an elementary school library; she posits the Learning Commons as the center of a story that radiates through the school and offers a beautiful quotation by Mem Fox about how literacy sharing is collaborative in nature.  Love of story and careful attention to children’s needs—as evidenced by clear planning and ergonomically designed gliders, tables, and stools—make this library one I’d love to see in person.  She clearly explains the multiple roles that the LLC plays, saying that though its design, “our LLC is a curious balance of two worlds: cozy, restful spaces for overly stimulated minds and roomy areas that activate wonder, the exchange of ideas, and exploration” (Hyman, 2014, p. 21). I highly recommend this article. 

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