Open space, plenty of seating and a café, this is the Naperville North Learning Commons.
“A Learning Commons is a little bit different than a traditional library in that a Learning Commons is focused on a number of different activities. The big tenants of the Learning Commons is that it’s the place for collaboration, communication and creativity to really be housed in one area,” said Naperville North’s Learning Commons Director, Mark Skarr.
This renovation comes after the rollout of the Digital Learning Initiative, or DLI, with every student at North using a Chromebook.
“With DLI and the practicality of students all having devices, we really had to think very hard on how we were going to maximize our space,” said Skarr.
Part of those maximizations are Huddle Rooms for students to gather and work together, a large Collaboration Space and lots of outlets.
Another prominent feature is the café, which is student run and still expanding.
Skarr explains, “We’ve been able to offer things the students have been asking for while being true to the food guidelines that have been put in place for schools.”
But with all this change, there are still elements of the old library housed within.
“We were able to take a really hard critical look at our collection to be able to thin it down to a place for todays learner, todays needs and be much more flexible for the kinds of needs that they have,” said Skarr about the library’s book collection.
Open before, during and after school, the Learning Commons has already become a major hub of student activity.
“Student reaction has been very positive. By 7 o’clock there are a couple hundred students in here, we fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you’re looking at it, we will max out on occasion in here and every chair is actually full. Discussions are already surrounding about how do we so more, add more, create more,” said Skarr.
A place for learning, in a digital world.
Another change, students don’t have to whisper in the Learning Commons, as discussion and collaboration are encouraged.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.
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