Library Planning Research

Library Learning Commons – People Tools

The library is a place that enables different types of learning opportunities. The idea that the learning environment is just about books or computers does not tell the complete story. There are many opportunities to gain knowledge in a library as well as in a formal learning space (classroom). However, the smart phones, laptops and e-book readers are changing the way we interact in our learning space. Our social environment is part of the digital continuum too, creating opportunities for library patrons to use “people tools” = applications + hardware + content.

The ability to communicate with smart boards is a strategy to improve the learning space. The future learning environment will include “people tools” to support the curriculum, formal or informal training programs and/or personal research. The opportunity to share with smart technology enables library patrons to experiment with technology, expanding the users ability to research the subject.

The Smart Technology Learning Commons is an example that gives librarians and libraries an advantage over a home or mobile connection. They provide “people tools” for the interactions to take place. They enhance the physical and virtual spaces with additional equipment.

If you are building a Khan Academy type learning environment or a library with e-content, you will need to know how to build the technology tools to communicate. There will be spaces where the public share; where people meet and collaborate on projects.

According to Today’s Public Libraries: Public Places of Excellence, Education and Innovation

“Despite the Internet, it seems, libraries persist—and even thrive. Given the wealth of information and reading material at our fingertips at all times, it’s fair to ask: why should that be? Why do people still want—and need—public libraries? There are many reasons, but the most important have to do with a couple of ideas that might sound archaic to modern ears, perhaps because in reality what they are is enduring.

  • The first is the notion of place, a thing the Internet was supposed to have obliterated. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the digital future: place kept mattering. It turns out that people often need somewhere to go, especially people who aren’t affluent enough to live in big houses.
  • The second reason libraries persist is the notion of improvement, something that has been an article of faith among librarians and their civic backers for as long as there have been libraries in this country. We Americans were early proponents of universal education and individual initiative, and we long ago recognized the importance of giving people a chance to make their lives better by gaining knowledge and cultivating their minds—in other words, improving themselves both materially and intellectually. It’s an idea redolent of Ben Franklin and Samuel Smiles, Horatio Alger and even Dale Carnegie.”
  • Let’s improve library environments to make them more effective. The nine reasons for a library gives you some strategies to discuss, build and share.