What is a "Learning Commons"? or rather, what are learning commons?

Prompted by the impact changes to Breakwater's physical space will have on our existing library, we had this amazing idea for reimagining the way we facilitate a reading culture at Breakwater. Breakwater’s pedagogical approach is all about integration, authentication and collaboration. To match our model, students require library spaces that are more than repositories, but are welcoming areas that encourage exploration, creation, and collaboration between students, teachers, and a broader community. A vision began to come together about what this might look like... 

And guess what? It's already a thing! More than a thing. A movement. It's called building "library commons" and it's showing up in conversations about school library redesigns all over.

What could library commons look like at Breakwater?

By developing spaces that allow children to make discoveries, put technology to imaginative use, learn, perform, and relax, as well as to read, we establish an even more exceptional culture of literacy and scholarship across our entire school.

The primary purpose of Breakwater’s library redesign is to think creatively and intentionally about what a forward-looking library should be, how it should function, and what scholarly and social learning goals it might serve. We will definitely continue to have a more conventional, dedicated library room, and supplement with areas and activities that heighten and facilitate reading at the school.

Our vision for Breakwater’s new Library apparatus can offer:

  • Integration of the library throughout our campus with multiple hubs of activity for learning, teaching, and creation inside and outside of the classroom.
  • A beautiful dedicated library space downstairs with progressive design details that facilitate visual and auditory connections for our youngest friends and meaningful browsing experiences for our older students.
  • Flexible learning spaces that allow students to gather in collaborative groups, or study independently.
  • Inspiring reading areas throughout our buildings that are fun, comfortable and invite children to engage creatively with the act of reading.
  • Access to information through digital technology with curricular support for digital scholarship and ethics-building.
  • Active leveraging of the Portland Public Library system providing both students and teachers access to over 300,000 books, audiobooks, musical recordings, movies, and digital resources as well as library services and cultural and community resources.