The Learning Commons

Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library

by Pamela Colburn Harland


There's a revolution in today's libraries—how they are organized, the types of resources they offer, how they serve patrons, and even in the mindsets of library specialists. The learning commons paradigm dictates a new way of thinking that will require sweeping changes. Are you ready to embrace the future of your library?

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Cover image for The Learning Commons

January 2011

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 112
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Management and Administration/Buildings and Facilities

This simple guide provides valuable insights for transforming an out-of-date public, school, or academic library into a thriving, user-centric learning commons.

The goal of the learning-commons strategy is to provide a centralized, "go-to" location for all users seeking help on the complex issues of teaching, researching, and being a global citizen in our changing world. A library organized around the learning-commons construct fosters collaborative work and social interaction between users during research and learning. This paradigm also encourages use of innovative technologies and information resources. Transforming a traditional library into a thriving learning commons does take some planning and effort, however.

Each of the seven chapters in this book explains a simple step that a librarian can take to improve their facility. Photographs and concrete examples of the suggested strategies are included; checklists at the end of each chapter serve as indicators for measuring progress. This text is useful for library administrators in school settings (both public and private, K-12) as well as academic, public, and special libraries.


  • Includes usable surveys, sample newsletters and library reports, research paper formatting guides, and a highly useful website
  • 38 figures and photographs of actual resources, user-centered design, students utilizing resources, and web design
  • Index facilitates quick reference to specific examples on demand


  • This text provides a roadmap any librarian can follow to adapt their facility to the emerging and increasingly popular learning commons library paradigm
  • Provides documented, valid information and practical suggestions presented with a dash of humor, unlike most texts on librarianship
Author Info

Pamela Colburn Harland is librarian at Plymouth Regional High School, Plymouth, NH. She holds a masters degree in information science and has worked in public libraries, academic libraries, and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as a research librarian. Harland received the 2009 Intellectual Freedom Award from the New Hampshire School Library Media Association and the 2010 New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award for Educational Media Professionals.

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High Impact School Library Spaces cover imageThe Learning Commons cover imagePractical Evaluation Techniques for Librarians cover image
Research-Based Planning for Public Libraries cover imageInquiry and the Common Core cover image

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