The Learning Commons

at Saco Middle School

The Transformation

The SMS Library has begun a transformation into a Learning Commons. Over the past few years we have diligently worked to update and strengthen our collection. This summer we rearranged, changed, and added a few new features for the start of the school year.


The learning commons model is different from a traditional library. It encourages 21st century information literacy skills, collaboration, multiple media formats, exploration, and innovation. Perhaps the biggest change for our community will be that we are not looking for people to be quiet all the time, just respectful of others. Our library design never lent itself to silence anyway. The kids need to have a purpose or goal in mind, but we’d like to allow them to explore a bit as well.


The reorganization created new nooks for learning, secluded areas to work or read, small group areas for staff and students to collaborate, a maker space, a green room, and a teacher work area. There is something for everyone.

Sections of the Library

Small Group Areas — Students and staff can work in groups on projects and use white boards to explore and write out ideas.

Quiet Areas — For students to work or read quietly without distractions.

Green Room — Students and staff can create movies with special effects and record sound without background noise.

Maker Space — Create and explore STEM projects. Let us know and we’ll gladly gear our activities to your curriculum. Students can come during free time and explore. We’re always open to suggestions for projects!

Large Group Area — Classes can come for research, mini lessons, presentations, etc.


The Learning Commons can be reserved as a whole or by area in order to accommodate teams, classes, or small groups. Please contact us ahead of time in order to reserve space during the school day. Reservations for after school time need to go through School Dude.

Learning Commons Offerings

All of the offerings below can be tailored to your classes needs. Book Talks and Book Tastings can be on specific genres of books such as CC & YAC Books, Award Winners, Nonfiction, Etc.


Introduction to the Library — At the beginning of the school year 6th grades classes come to the Library and we explain the rules, expectations, where everything is located and how to search for book.


Book Tastings — The Library is set up like a café with tablecloths, candles, menus, and flowers, but instead of serving food we serve books. Each table has a stack of books and each student has a menu. We discuss how to find books you want to read by not just judging a book by its cover. The student then goes through the books and adds books to his/ her menus that he/she wants to read. Students leave with a list of books that they can refer to later to check out. This program has been successful with the YAC, CC and Award Winning Books.


Book Talks — We talk about our favorite books or talk about books geared toward your lessons or student interest. We can promote YAC, CC, Maine Student Book Award nominees, or gear our book talk toward reluctant readers. Our goal is to get students interested in books without giving away any important information or endings.


Book Groups — We are available to meet with individuals or small groups of students to discuss a book as part of your curriculum.


Read-alike Talks — We can introduce and recommend books that are similar to current popular books or a book that you are using in class. We can also find read-alikes for those students who are having a hard time finding a book.

Mini Lessons we can present to classes

Using the SMS Library Catalog

  • Searching - how to find a book

  • Submitting Book reviews - students may submit a book review to be posted in the catalog

  • Checking out Ebooks - how to check out an ebook from the Follett Shelf and download it to a device.

  • Use from home - demonstrating how students can access Alexandria from home.


Research Skills

  • Evaluating Resources - identifying reliable resources

  • How to Search - how and where to search for resources, identifying informational needs, and using quality search terms

  • Copyright - understanding plagiarism and citations

  • Bibliographies - how to create bibliographies and what information is needed


Using the Marvel Database - Maine’s Virtual Library

  • How to research a topic in Marvel

  • How to use specific databases such as Novelist, Newspapers, and Maine resources

We're excited to collaborate! Just ask!

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