Reviews

The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library Libraries Unlimited (an imprint of ABC-CLIO), 2011.

Booklist (May 15, 2011 (Online))
“Today’s school libraries are called to transform themselves into learning commons, a unique space for ongoing and purposeful learning. This book follows one school’s process. The author, a Plymouth Regional High School (NH) librarian, writes from her experience and has won awards for her work. She outlines seven transformational steps: be user centered, be flexible, streamline the way “repetitive questions” are dealt with so students can become more autonomous, join resources to provide one-stop “shopping,” remove barriers, trust users (optimize access and use), and publicize. Four appendixes provide a library survey and scavenger hunt (together), examples for students of how to cite works used in research, a template for a “digital portfolio” (which Plymouth Regional High School students need to create in order to graduate), and a sample newsletter. The information is practical, if not revolutionary. The strength lies in adding contemporary technology into the mix.”

Library Media Connection (August/September 2011)
“Media specialists looking for ways to redesign their libraries for the 21st century will find this book valuable. The majority of the ideas are practical, simple, and inexpensive. Harland presents seven steps for implementing a learning commons model for school libraries: Making the Library User-centered and Flexible, Streamlining Services, Centralizing Resources, Removing Barriers, Trusting Users, and Publicizing the Library. Removing barriers to information and library space are fundamental to making the library user-centered; serious consideration must therefore be given to amending acceptable use policies. The format is simple and consistent. Each chapter ends with a to-do list for applying the ideas. There are also “Questions to Ask Yourself” that address ways to improve your library program. Illustrations, photos, and charts add to its value, but a list of references and further reading might have enhanced its value even further. Overall, there are many useful ideas in this book for improving the school library and its services. Appendices include student and faculty surveys, examples of MLA format, samples of library newsletters, and a rubric for a digital portfolio.” Index. Theresa Metter, Media Specialist, Valley View High School, Germantown, Ohio [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED

School Library Journal (January 1, 2012)
“Written in clear, straightforward language, this enlightening book provides encouragement and recommendations for librarians and staff to step away from the traditional facility into the library of today and the future by creating, instead, a Learning Commons. Each of the seven chapters provides thoughtful steps, questions for evaluation purposes, ideas for changes, etc., all based on the author’s personal experiences in her New Hampshire school library. Harland shares many thoughts for developing a user-centered space, including simplifying library language, providing easier and friendlier access to assistance, weeding no longer used equipment and resources, and improving overall visibility. Other helpful suggestions include creating easily movable furniture and shelving, being more flexible with loan policies, and improving sustainability of the library website by using tools like blogs and wikis. The importance of developing a trust with students and faculty; joining forces with other departments, librarians, and community resources; and publicizing all assist in keeping the library relevant for students. Most useful is a section on how to implement the use of e-readers. Each chapter concludes with a helpful to-do list that serves as a chapter review as well as an implementation guide. Copious black-and-white figures support the information, and the appendixes include library activities, web page examples, a scavenger hunt, surveys, MLA formatting guides, and much more; all help in creating easily accessible information. An exciting, motivational resource.”-Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.

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