With generous donations given during the 2013 Annual School Auction, MDHS was able to completely re-imagine and remodel the library. Now called the Library and Learning Commons, the space has evolved from a combination library and computer lab into a full-service learning, research and project space. This modern commons is a meeting place, offering several areas where students can rearrange furniture to accommodate impromptu planning sessions. We also offer a study room if they desire a quiet, more separate place in which to work. In response to course assignments and curriculum evolution, which have taken a creative and collaborative turn in the past decade, the MDHS Learning Commons provides areas for group meetings, tools to support creative efforts, and on-staff specialists to provide help as needed. However, we recognize that the successful Learning Commons does not depend solely upon adaptable space configuration or the latest technological gear. Its strength lies in the relationships it supports, whether these are student-to-student, student-to-faculty, student-to-equipment, or student-to-information. Effective learning commons are alive with the voices of students working together, establishing the kinds of connections that promote active, engaged learning.
As a place where students can meet, talk, study, and use borrowed equipment, the Learning Commons brings together the functions of a library, a multi-media lab, a lounge and a seminar area into a single on-campus gathering place. This face-to-face forum supports the sharing of student ideas outside the classroom, complementing the shift in pedagogy toward collaborative media and team efforts. As a bonus, the Learning Commons can be an ideal venue to blend face-to-face with virtual meetings, allowing a “telecommuter” to join team project discussions by way of the Media:Scape.
Our new, well-equipped Learning Commons says to our students, “Here you have tools, room to collaborate, equipment, advice, research options, and access to expert information. Now it is up to you to build something worthwhile: a paper, a presentation, an education.”
See before and after photos of this quick transformation that took place over Summer 2013.
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Ruth Aptaker, Director of Library and Information Services