Students of yesterday went to school libraries to merely check out books and conduct research—in silence. It was all work, no fun. That’s not what parents would find when they step inside Tritt Elementary School, which has the first certified Library Learning Commons in the United States.
Tritt’s Library Learning Commons welcomes students like a Starbucks for kids, minus the coffee. The engaging space with flexible seating includes the traditional books but so much more. Digital tools and technology help the students collaborate. The library media specialists not only guide students as they select which book will take them on their next literary adventure, but they also conduct lessons focused on the curriculum the students are learning inside their classroom.
“In our Library Learning Commons, students can stretch their thinking, ask questions, build research skills, design new concepts in makerspaces, and collaborate with their peers,” said Holly Frilot, Cobb Schools supervisor of Library Media Education. “The library media specialist cultivates lessons to spark curiosity, teaches how to research effectively, and guides students to present their new knowledge with digital tools.”
Many Cobb students are tech-savvy and able to quickly navigate apps and social media. The media specialists inside the Library Learning Commons help the students become tech-literate so they can understand the digital world around them and navigate it safely and successfully.
Other schools around the Cobb County School District have Library Learning Commons, but Tritt’s is the first one that has gone through the Cobb Schools first-of-its-kind certification process. Cobb is the only school district in the nation, according to Frilot, to design an evaluation system to determine whether a school is adhering to the tenets of a Library Learning Commons.
For example, a Library Learning Commons, like the one at Tritt Elementary, must provide space for experimenting, playing, making, doing, thinking, collaborating, and growing.
“One of our newer spaces is the MakerSpace where students can come to work on small or group projects, including green screen productions. Students and staff feel welcome to use the spaces and resources as needed in a truly flexible learning environment,” explained Tritt Principal Karen Carstens.
Frilot and Principal Carstens both credit media specialist Joanne Bates for her work with teachers and staff over the past five years to transition Tritt’s media center into a Library Learning Commons.
“The traditional library has gone through a transformation as old and outdated print materials have been replaced with more high-interest print materials and up-to-date digital resources,” added Principal Carstens. “The digital resources extend the walls of our library into the classrooms and even beyond our school as students and teachers can access the resources at home.”
Other Cobb Schools can follow Tritt’s lead and earn certification by examining the three specific areas of Library Learning Commons transformation: services, resources, and intentional spaces.
“In support of Cobb’s commitment to innovation, the Library Learning Commons certification highlights the transformation schools undertake to create engaging, inspiring spaces for students,” Frilot explained. “In our Library Learning Commons, students go on virtual reality field trips, engage in the engineering design process in makerspaces, and use digital tools like 3D printers.”
More information about the Cobb Schools Library Learning Commons Certification process is available here.