What is a Learning Commons?

I’ll have to admit, when I first applied for the job as the Learning Commons Coordinator at FHSU I wondered what I was getting myself into. As I’ve immersed myself in the culture here at Fort Hays State University and Forsyth Library I’m starting to get a better idea of what a learning commons is and how it fits with a University library. Forsyth Library has many of the standard things you would expect to see in a library, a reference section, periodicals, books, microfilm, historical and government documents, and of course, librarians. But Forsyth Library and the Learning Commons together have so much more!

Peek your head inside the huge front doors, just beyond the coffee bar (yes, I’ll bet you didn’t know we had one) and you’ll see couches, comfy chairs, laptops, big screen television screens and helpful smiles. And you will ‘hear’ things, voices…talking, sharing, collaborating and asking questions. The Learning Commons provides laptops to check out for projects or while yours is in the shop. We also have digital cameras, camcorders, projectors and more. Because here at Fort Hays State, the library isn’t just a library…it’s also a Learning Commons. I found this quote by Robin Cicchetti, a high school Learning Commons coordinator, recently and suddenly the comfortable look and feel of Forsyth became clear. Come visit, grab a coffee and relax while you study. I’ll leave you with Robin’s quote:

“Transform the “library” into a “learning commons.” Libraries are crucial in this age of abundant information, but only if they provide relevant support for those actively navigating the digital environment. Hang up your “shhh,” stop fussing over the coffee cups, welcome students in with wide open arms along with their mess and Facebook. Give them new tools so that they can find, evaluate, and create. Teach them how be ethical and productive citizens. Teach them how to communicate responsibly and publish to the world. Creativity can be messy and loud. Get over it. Welcome to the learning commons” (R.Cicchetti, 2010).

Please visit her blog: http://concordcarlislelibrary.blogspot.com/

Cynthia Garrety, Learning Commons Coordinator

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