Assessing Effective School Library Learning Commons Themes: What do they look like? What questions can help us assess where we are?

Judith Sykes

By Gerald R. Brown & Judith A. Sykes

Assessing Effective School Library Learning Commons Themes: What do they look like? What questions can help us assess where we are?


The paper addresses components of a school library as transitioning into a learning commons approach using selected themes from Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada (Canadian Library Association (CLA), 2014). Although there are 32 themes in Leading Learning, the 14 selected themes in the paper reflect components most practitioners associated with school libraries have familiarity with such as collaborative planning, teaching and assessment, information literacy, engaging through inquiry, literacy and literary and cultural appreciation, designing for responsive print and digital collections, and technology for learning. The selected themes are introduced with a summary description of the component, its observables, strategies for implementing, and guiding questions for assessing.


Judith SykesJudith Anne Sykes has worked as a teacher-librarian, school library specialist, principal and provincial school library manager; leading Alberta Education’s School Library Services Initiative 2008-2012. She has led associations, published and presented extensively including acting as co-chair/principal writer of Achieving Information Literacy Through Quality School Library Programs: The Vision and Standards for School Library Programs in Canada, and recently, project coordinator/contributing writer for the Canadian Library Association (CLA) Leading Learning: Standards Of Practice For School Library Learning Commons In Canada 2014. She is the author of five books with Libraries Unlimited: Library Centers: Teaching Information Literacy, Skills, and Processes K-6; Action Research: Practical Tips for Transforming Your School Library; Brain-Friendly School Libraries; Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library; and forthcoming The Whole School Library Learning Commons: An Educators’ Guide.

Gerald BrownAfter Gerald Brown received the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit in 1986, his friends and professional colleagues often referred to him as “Mr. Turtle” because he was forever sticking his neck out for his passionate cause – “school libraries around the world.” In 1993 he received the CLA Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award. This recognition honored his 1965-1992 career in school library leadership, Winnipeg School Division. He has lectured and done presentations in seven provinces, eleven states, and over 49 countries. Gerald took early retirement in 1992 and began a career in consulting, workshop development and program facilitation, developing many life-long friendships through his involvement with the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) from 1982 to date and is IASL Ambassador. (Note: The reference addendum of this paper includes selections of Gerald’s international work with the “components”.)