Re-emergence and Convergence

The Re-Invention of Wilton’s LLC in the Wake of the Pandemic


Yana Giannoutsos

The Library Learning Commons develops into a loved and well-resourced area.

Wilton High School’s library has long served both the students and faculty as an oasis: a sanctuary self-contained within the brick walls of the glass-covered structure. However, the aftermath of the pandemic has led people astray from the library, often rendering them unaware of the revolutionary items, mediums of entertainment, and creativity that the library could offer to students of all walks of life.

An inside gaze from library media specialists Kenneth Dunaj and Tara Peterson will offer revelations that will surely draw students of all backgrounds and interests into one common place on campus: the LLC.

Wilton High School students do not realize the full extent of the library’s amenities. The first step to gaining this awareness is understanding what purposes the library serves. 

“This is no longer just a library,” Dunaj said.“Here at the library learning commons, we offer a place of continued reading, social interaction, and a space for students to do both professional work and to relax, take a break from their hectic days.” 

The emergence from a pandemic-ridden world has influenced academic anxiety this year, leaving students feeling anxious and lacking coping resources. 

“We were in the middle of redesign when the pandemic hit and everything halted because of the importance of safety,” Dunaj said. “We were forced to adopt traditional desks that were in straight rows and lines and work in isolation. That really hindered the student’s ability to collaborate and to access the space, especially freshman and sophomore students who did not know the school then.” 

Light has revealed itself at the end of a seemingly perpetual tunnel, as the new age of reinvention ignites both an academic and social atmosphere in the library. The library, according to specialists Dunaj and Peterson, can serve the students as more than just a room filled with archived books. 

“All of our books,” Peterson said. “Are not decorations. We want students to check them out and ask us for book recommendations for both pleasure and school assignments.” 

The re-branding of the Library has transformed it into a “Library Learning Commons:” an area for learning, socialization, professional work, as well as rejuvenation. 

“It’s a different story this year coming out of the pandemic,” Dunaj said. 

He, along with his new colleague Peterson, have visions that extend beyond the physical library space. The tools and resources available in the Wilton High School Library not only offer additional options for schoolwork and projects, but also foster a place of personal passion and inquiry. 

The Production Space, one of the more current novelties in the library, provides students with a podcast area, independent microphones, and tripods free for guided use. 

“Sometimes teachers assign projects but students lack the resources to actually do it,” Dunaj said. “We are trying to give them support and the tools themselves, for example the tools to make a podcast and actually learn how to use the tools properly.”

The production space is also home to a semester-long course offered to self motivated digital citizens who want to tinker and experiment with this digital technology and communications tools. 

“This class is based around an idea from Stanford University about problem solving and coming up with potential prototypes and solutions,” Dunaj said.

The pandemic hindered students’ ability to tinker and experiment with technological design and communications, as well as to socialize with each other in a traditional manner. Given this problem, the re-branding of the LLC has specifically included this area of interest, which merges social collaboration and digital advancement. 

In addition to this digital space, the library learning commons also offers the tinker space, where kids can tinker, build, and design their own projects using 3-D printers, computers, and paper printers available in the space.

The Library Learning Commons fosters a space where, through collaboration and brainstorming, students can arrive at solutions together. With Wilton High Schools’ core values in mind, the library is a place where individuals of all different interests can converge and engage in thoughtful discourse regarding all aspects of life. 

The goal of the newly invented Library Learning Commons is to both encourage a place for education in technology and digital literacy as well as to provide an authentic library experience for those who wish to unplug. 

“The technology-free space is a place where students can play chess, play board games, card games, work on jigsaw puzzles, or just read,” Peterson said. “We ask for no phones or computers in this space of the learning commons to help give students the opportunity to unplug and engage in conversation.” 

In addition to the technological and relaxation oriented spaces, among the LLC’s most sought after area is the collaboration space. Here, located to the right of the main entrance, white boards adorn the walls above small work spaces with chairs.

“Teachers and students can come down here with a whiteboard where they can put their brainstorm on the table so they can visually see the learning going on,” Peterson said. 

Oftentimes, chatter of collaborative projects echo an optimistic sound throughout the library, which the LLC teachers love to listen to. 

“We hear from students who surround us—it’s that positive buzz in the air that you want to hear,” Dunaj, who strives to help the community move away from the misconception that a library should be a silent, solitary space, said. “That noise. That thinking. That laughing. It’s ok. That is what we want to foster here in the LLC, in this space, and in our culture. We want it to meet our students’ needs.”

The LLC cultivates this inclusive and stimulating ambiance by representing students around the school within it. 

“We have student artwork on display throughout. It is nice to be able to see work from our own students,” Peterson said.

Alas, come and see – be a witness and take a role in the reinvention of our School’s LLC. Join the team of individuals devoted to fostering a space of not only academic excellence, but of collaboration, and the dawn of new ideas.