Collaborative Knowledge Building: A constructivist activity, where learners work together to construct understanding to build a body of knowledge. In the school Library Learning Commons, understanding is advanced with planned teacher interventions such as question prompts, graphic organizers and conferencing. (Koechlin, Loerscher, and Zwaan, 2011, 1)

Collaborative Learning: Groups of students/teachers actively participate in working together towards a communal goal. The result is unique to the group dynamics and can be conducted in person, virtual or in blended learning environments.

Collaborative Teaching: One or more classroom teachers and/or one or more learning specialists (e.g., teacher-librarian, learning commons teacher) plan, teach, coach and assess a learning event together. Library technicians and/or assistants or support staff work with teachers to support a learning event as directed by the teachers.

Flexible Space: The design and furnishings of the physical learning commons allow for spontaneous re-arrangement of furniture and even shelving to accommodate a variety of teaching and learning needs.

Habits of Mind: A disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known: dichotomies, dilemmas, enigmas and uncertainties. (Costa, 2014, 1)

Information Literacy: The ability to access, evaluate, use and share information effectively and ethically for a range of educational, career and personal purposes. (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2008, 47). Achieving Information
Literacy (Asselin, Branch, and Oberg, eds., 2003, 5) defines an information-literate citizen as someone who:

  • works independently and collaboratively to solve problems
  • analyses information critically in all its formats and in all media contexts
  • applies information strategically to solve personal and social problems
  • makes decisions based on accurate and current information
  • uses information and communication technologies
  • respects information sources and diverse perspectives
  • honours intellectual property and privacy rights
  • appreciates the aesthetic qualities of various creative and scientific expressions
  • communicates effectively and expressively, using a variety of information and media formats.

Inquiry: An approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem, topic or issue. It requires more of them than simply answering questions or getting a right answer. It espouses investigation, exploration, search, quest, research, pursuit, and study. Inquiry does not stand alone; it engages interests, and challenges students to connect to their world with the curriculum. Although it is often thought of as an individual pursuit, it is enhanced by involvement with a community of learners, each learning from the other in social interaction. (Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari, 2007, 2)

Intellectual Freedom: “All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. (Canadian Library Association, 2011b, 1)

Knowledge Building: The creation and improvement of knowledge of value to one’s community. (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 2010, 12)

Learning Commons Leadership Team: A committee to lead a whole school approach to learning for the future, responsive to the needs of learners, via the LLC teaching expertise, resources, technologies and physical and virtual spaces. The team is inclusive to the school community (e.g. administration, teacher-librarian, lead and/or specialist teachers, library support staff, classroom teachers, students, parents or other interested school community members).

Learning Commons Professionals:

District Library Consultant: A specialist teacher/teacher-librarian whose duties involve school library learning commons development and support for schools from the district level.

Teacher-Librarian: A teacher who leads the LLC program and has education in school librarianship (eg. specialist, diploma, Master of Education, Master of Library and Information Science).

Teacher-Technologist: A co-teacher in the LLC who models effective and transformative uses of technology and has education in technology.

Learning Commons Teacher: A teacher who has responsibilities for management and program in the LLC when there is no teacher-librarian on site.

Librarian: The school library staff member who assists the Learning Commons Leadership Team with management of the LLC and has qualifications (e.g., MLIS) in library science and/or information science.

Library Technician: The school library staff member who assists the Learning Commons Leadership Team with management of the LLC and has a diploma in Library and Information Technology.

Learning Commons Support Staff: The school and district staff who have special responsibilities assigned to support the LLC such as library clerks, library technicians, librarians, IT technicians. They may work on site or from a central site.

Learning Commons Plan: The plan of action for the LLC that is developed and continually reviewed to address the context of the particular school community, demographics, specialized programs or mandates, including the student learning outcomes, collection plan and budget.

Learning Environment: The physical or virtual space deliberately designed to provide optimum conditions for learning. In the LLC, rich learning environments support all learners with best resources, technologies, flexible spaces and professional instruction.

Library Learning Commons (LLC): The physical and virtual collaborative learning hub of the school community, designed to engineer and lead learning for the future, a transformational shift from traditional library to a whole school learning culture where everyone is working together to enhance learning, and to continually improve thinking, questioning, analyzing and creating.

Transitional growth of a Library Learning Commons:

Exploring – The school community is using the Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada (Canadian Library Association, 2014) to begin the review of its school library and to assist in developing goals and action plans for moving forward. The growth continuum charts begin with schools already in the first phase of learning commons transitions, and will also assist in establishing points of entry.
Emerging – The school community has embraced the Library Learning Commons concepts and has established a Learning Commons Leadership Team to begin the work of preparing the library facility, collections, technologies and teaching and support staff for renewed focus on learning in changing environments.
Evolving – The Learning Commons Leadership Team is building a collaborative school culture with teachers and students to have a focus on inquiry learning that utilizes the teaching expertise, resources, technologies and spaces of the school Library Learning Commons.
Established – The school Library Learning Commons is dedicated to building teaching partnerships to design and guide engaging and effective collaborative learning and participatory knowledge building experiences.
Leading – The school Library Learning Commons is central to leadership and empowerment of all learners (students and teachers) who actively participate in, and contribute to, their learning communities.

Metacognition: The action of consciously thinking about one’s own thinking; in the LLC this is the process of learning how to learn by examining both knowledge gained and the strategies one uses to learn, and making plans for improvement.

Online databases and subscription resources: A searchable aggregated collection of thousands of predominantly full-text information records (free of advertising) from a wide range of media sources; e.g., newspapers, magazines, journals, lists, specialized reference texts, encyclopaedias, atlases, image banks, e-books, and video/audio clips purchased from a publisher via specific license agreements. A designated login process ensures that only authorized users have access to licensed resources. Users can access online reference resources from a central login point, thereby eliminating geographic and time constraints.

Participatory Learning: Learners work collaboratively to develop their own learning paths, build collective knowledge, and co-create the sharing of their new understandings. In the LLC, learners work in both physical and virtual participatory learning environments. (Koechlin, Loertscher, and Rosenfeld, 2010, 11)

Personal Learning Network (PLN): A set of connections to people and resources both offline and online that enrich our learning – at a moment’s notice. (Richardson, 2011, 2)

School Community: “When used by educators, the term school community typically refers to the various individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions that are invested in the welfare and vitality of a public school and its community i.e., the neighborhoods and municipalities served by the school. In many contexts, the term encompasses the school administrators, teachers, and staff members who work in a school; the students who attend the school and their parents and families; and local residents and organizations that have a stake in the school’s success, such as school-board members, city officials, and elected representatives; businesses, organizations, and cultural institutions; and related organizations and groups such as parent-teacher associations, “booster clubs,” charitable foundations, and volunteer school-improvement committees (to name just a few).” (Great Schools Partnership, 2013)

Student Learning Outcomes: The outcomes of the provincial programs of study. The student learning outcome framework in CLA’s Achieving information literacy: Standards for school libraries in Canada (Asselin, Branch, and Oberg, Eds., 2003, 9-17) are drawn from multiple subject areas and information literacy documents.

Transliteracy: The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. (Thomas, Joseph, Laccetti, Mason, Mills, Perril, and Pullinger, 2007,1)

Virtual Learning Commons (VLC): The online force of the Learning Commons, a digital learning community in which the whole school participates. It is not a library website which only provides a oneway stream of useful information. Instead, both the instructors and the students of the school collaborate to establish the VLC as a place where individuals and groups are actively learning, communicating,and building together in real time. This participatory community of learners is powered by software which allows many contributors, and it is as public or private as the school wishes it to be. (Loertscher, Koechlin, and Rosenfeld, 2012, 2)