Thoughts on the October LSC Webinar

Imagining and Realizing the 21st Century Library as a Laboratory for Learning: Lessons Learned from the Field

The guiding principles for the LSC set the stage for the webinar, that our agenda is to engage a broad community of stakeholders in:

  • Promoting evidence-based design of physical learning environments
  • Capturing emerging best practices in imagining, designing, constructing and assessing spaces for 21st century learners
  • Exploring lessons learned from the community about how space matters to learning.

The particular "lessons learned" from the experience of the presenters focused on the drivers for shaping 21st century learning commons, libraries for learning, on libraries for learning transform roles of the “users."  Together with some interesting exploration of defining the "user," attention was given to how findings from research and practice about what works inform the process of planning.

The prelude to the webinar focused on the experience of learning, translating these wise words from long-ago into a planning principle:  One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.  -Sophocles, 400 B.C. 

Jumping across centuries, attention was given to more recent validation of how learning happens.

As learners are:

  • actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge
  • situated in a social and supportive community
  • able to reflect and build on prior knowledge
  • involved with addressing problems that are relevant to their lives and work.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.

The impact on the student learner was elegantly presented by Joe Fennewald.

It was interesting to learn how, in tackling the challenge of change, planning teams morph into a new kind of community of practice, simply defined as a community that begins to shape a shared language and mental image that leads to informed participation in the planning process. An approach to informing participation was presented by Rosarie Coughlan, who initiated conversations about the possibilities of a new library for learning by having her colleagues each draft—in one minute: 

The impact of grounding planning on the experience of the learner was signaled clearly in the story about the new library at Grand Valley State University. Lee Van Orsdel and Lennie Scott-Webber both pointed our attention to the many spatial affordances that were the direct outcome of attention to research about how space matters and how learning happens. Beginning with the goals for the project, to:

  • align library with student’s preferred environments
  • give student tools for manage their own learning
  • inspire, energize and engage students as learners.

Lee presented some of her challenging mental images that shaped their planning process. One was of a shopping mall.

Reflecting on the discussion, the notion of informed participation kept resonating. I was reminded of the resource from the LSC archives that had been instrumental in shaping the LSC mental image of how planning happens: Beyond Access: Informed Participation and Empowerment. 


Upcoming Events


Friday, January 23: 1:00 - 2:30 pm


The session is designed so that each participant leaves with an "audacious question" that can spark conversations about how spaces matter to learning on his or her home campus, designed for a diverse range of stakeholders.

LSC Session at the 2015 AAC&U Annual Meeting


The Centennial Annual Meeting

January 21-24, 2015
Marriott Marquis Hotel 
 / Washington, DC


3:30 - 5:00 p.m. EST


  • Jeanne L. Narum, Principal - Learning Spaces Collaboratory


  • Dennis Cuddy, Manager, Administration and Facilities - UMBC
  • Russ Ellis, Lab Coordinator, Integrated Science Program - McMaster University
  • Carolyn H. Eyles, Professor, P.Geo., 3M National Teaching Fellow, Director, Integrated Science Program, School of Geography & Earth Sciences - McMaster University
  • William R. LaCourse, Dean, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences - UMBC
  • Sarah Symons, Assistant Professor, Integrated Science Program & Department of Physics and Astronomy - McMaster University

Co-sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR)