Browndorf, M. (2014). Student library ownership and building the communicative commons. Journal of Library Administration, 54:2, 77-93, doi:10.1080/01930826.2014.903364
This recent scholarly paper is a must-read. Browndorf argues powerfully that prioritizing student participation within the library may be the best preparation for participation in the wider cultural commons post-graduation.” (Browndorf, M. 2014) She reviews existing literature, citing Birdsall’s 2010 “Communicative Commons” model as a means for connecting college students to a wider cultural commons and to more engaged communication. She moves on to cite Beagle’s knowledge commons (2006) as a model to which school and academic libraries can affordably aspire. Browndorf’s proposed transformations are deliberately student-centered and cost-effective: while her article is not a showcase of beautiful furniture, she focuses on how academic libraries can create a powerful shift in purpose through student engagement.
Browndorf sets up her proposed suggestions after thoroughly reviewing the origins of the use of the term “commons,” going back historically to shared grazing areas. She cites Hardin’s 1968 “Tragedy of the Commons,” in which no one takes responsibility for shared resources, resulting in their demise. She then moves though a psychological literature review regarding the positive impact of student ownership on student engagement and learning. Make no mistake: this is an academic paper. However, I can see that a teacher librarian may need to submit this to a district superintendent or wary board of trustees in order to gain support for a Learning Commons model.
Finally, Browndorf’s recommendations are sound: she proposes student advisory committees and councils as ways to create and assess learning commons models; she also recommends student creation and implementation of library orientation services, noting student-designed library web apps. This article offers a solid idea in conventional-enough packaging; it’s a good read and a potentially useful advocacy tool.