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Intentional Spaces

A Library Learning Commons should be flexible and responsive to the community it serves. While libraries are an important component of a school's reading culture, they are also so much more. They are centers of research, creativity, critical thinking, learning, and fun. 



Flexible Furniture

  • Rolling Tables, Chairs, and Desks

  • Soft Seating

  • Beanbags

  • Lounge Seating

  • Wobble Boards

  • Bosu Balls

  • Foot Peddlers

  • Wobble Stools

  • Desk Bikes

  • Standing Work Areas

Almost ten years ago, the Smitha library underwent its first transformation from a traditional library to a Learning Commons. Hundreds of books were weeded and big, bulky wooden furniture was replaced with sleek furniture that could easily be moved for different occasions. While we have a general set up, it is not uncommon to see us moving things around to suit a specific activity or program.


In the last six years, we have continued to transform the space with the addition of flexible seating, including beanbag chairs, loungers, wobble stools, stools of various heights, and yoga balls. We also recognized a need for our more active students to have a place to work, so we added a couple desk bikes and several different kinds of standing equipment, such as wobble boards, stair-steppers, and elliptical peddlers. At any point throughout the day, you will see students and teachers quietly using the equipment while they read or work. The bikes get used so frequently, that they have already been replaced once!     


Flexible Scheduling

  • LibraryTrac

  • Scheduled Check-in/Check-outs 


With a flexible schedule, we can easily pivot to accommodate community needs. We use LibraryTrac so that teachers can reserve spaces from the convenience of their classrooms. We realized, though, that the best way to facilitate regular library visits for book check-in/check-out was to set a schedule with our reading teachers, but even this schedule has some flexibility to it. We let teachers pick their preferred day, and we give them options for the visit. Some teachers choose to bring their whole class and some prefer to send students in small groups throughout the class period. When teachers bring their whole class, they have the option to do a quick in and out, or they can request book talks or other reading incentives and extend their time in the space. Teachers who want to schedule collaborative lessons can make a request through LibraryTrac, but most teachers prefer to come in person and let us add them to the digital calendar. We offer several ways to come to the library and use our resources so that we can best meet the needs of our entire community.



Collaborative Spaces

  • Dry Erase Tables

  • Large Work Areas

  • Classroom Spaces

In the Learning Commons, we know that learning is often collaborative, so we planned intentional spaces where students can work together. First, we spread out our dry erase tables into different areas, and we set the table at different heights. This allows multiple groups of students to work in areas with differentiated seating options. We also pushed some table together to create larger work areas, and we have large high top tables available in our Maker Space. We also have a designated classroom space for whole-class instruction as well as project work that might require multiple tables.  


Independent Work Spaces

  • Rolling Desks

  • Isolated tables

  • Isolated soft-seating areas

  • Dual-purpose Spaces


While learning is often collaborative, there are times when patrons need a quiet space to work. We have spread out cafe tables where students can work on their own. We also added a genius bar by the window where students can work while also enjoying the view to our patio (we have Cardinals who visit us often at our back windows). We have a few soft seating areas that are set aside for quiet work, and we use our additional rooms that have specific purposes for a quiet work space when necessary, such as our recording studio or our Calming Corner. 



Maker Space

  • STEAM Supplies

  • Consumables

  • Crafting Tools

  • Creativity Opportunities

  • Project Guidance

Our Maker Space, known locally as the Creative Corner, has evolved over time. Our previous librarian started our Maker Space, so we weren't starting from scratch. But it was located in a smaller carpeted room, while we had a huge tiled room with multiple cabinets that was being used as a copy room. The cabinets were mostly empty, and the room was mostly unused. We saw an opportunity and lobbied to have the copiers moved to each grade level for teachers' convenience, and we moved production supplies like the poster printer, paper cutters, and laminators to a smaller carpeted room that also has access to the roof (the room was previously used for video production and housed our green screen). We spent a lot of time collecting donations. We sent supply lists out to our community, and we accepted anything and everything. Once we had our donations, we organized the space, making full use of the storage available. Our awesome custodians helped us move large work tables into the space and remove unnecessary shelving. I came in over the summer to paint bright new colors on the walls, and once we opened the space, we had a joyful, fully stocked craft room large enough for whole classes.

We started scheduling the Makerspace with individual STEAM and craft challenges, and while some students took advantage of these opportunities, most students who came simply needed supplies and assistance with classroom-assigned projects. To meet the needs of our community, we shifted our focus, and started stocking more basic supplies in bulk. Now our Maker Space is a much needed resource for individual projects. It is also a staging area for library projects implemented by our Library Science students. Classes and clubs also reserve the space for project based lessons, and we set it up based on their requests ahead of time.            


Recording Studio

  • Green Screen

  • Podcasting Equipment

  • Music Production

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After moving our teacher production room into the former video production room, we knew we needed to configure a new space. Our school store was formerly located in a small room next to our office in the LLC. This room was only used for a small amount of time before school each day. Once again we lobbied to reclaim the space and turn the school store into a mobile unit. After successfully moving the store, we transformed the space into a new Recording Studio, complete with a mobile green screen, studio lighting, and podcasting and music production equipment.   



Sensory Room

  • Fidgets

  • Special Lighting

  • Balance Materials

  • Body Swing

  • Tactile Materials

Students experience various levels of stress throughout the day, and many students benefit from sensory support once they have become dysregulated. We house several small unit classrooms at Smitha, but beyond specific physical needs, all students can benefit from a calming environment when they become overwhelmed. We recognized a need for a calming, sensory experience for many of our students, so once again, we lobbied to reclaim a space. The PTA office moved to the front office, and we transformed their old space into a new Sensory Room, also known as the Calming Corner. Our special education units reserve the space for regular visits with their classes, and regular education teachers can call us when they have individual students who need to de-stress. 

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