Transforming Libraries For Digital-Age Learning
I can remember visiting my school library and the absolute thrill I would feel being able to select one or two books to take home and immerse myself in. I always loved flipping to the back of the book immediately to see who else had signed out “my” book. Sometimes I would even see my older brother had picked the same one.
I can also remember the need to be as quiet as possible … and to not interact with my classmates or friends while thumbing through books that caught my eye. And, of course, being fascinated with the rows upon rows of encyclopedias … our version of “Google” in those days.
Today, sadly, school districts are cutting the position of librarian as a means to balance budgets.
Several of us, however, contend it is time to redefine the position and the space.
Instead of only seeking answers, the library should also be a place to ask questions, collaborate, communicate and create. Our secondary libraries are now called library-learning hubs (or just – the hub) and take the structure in a new direction.
- Ask Questions – the library-learning hub is about more than seeking answers, it is about inquiry and asking questions. The space and technology enable our learners to ask questions of local businesses and those around the world.
- Communicate/Collaborate – We encourage learners to talk in the library, with others in the space and around the globe. We have created collaboration rooms that are outfitted with a conference table, television and connections for all learners to display their work and projects (think of a business conference room and a presentation from a colleague).
- Create/Produce – the hub is a space to create using all the information and resources at hand, which no longer rely solely on printed material. Those resources still include those from our educational past, as well as a device that provides the sum of all human knowledge and access to fellow classmates here and anywhere. Our secondary hubs are also equipped with a one-touch studio that enables learners to quickly record themselves and created a videocast… with one-touch. The green screen allows the video to be edited and dropped into any movie or screen that fits the need or assignment.
And if you think this happens only during the day, you are wrong. Resources, such as online databases, are available to our learners 24/7. It is no longer a destination that you visit only when your teacher takes the whole class. Our learners can take their lunch to the hub and continue work there as opposed to the cafeteria.
If you are looking for a world-class example of this new learning space, we visited Penn State’s Knowledge Commons: https://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/kc.html. Another excellent example of this redefinition of our libraries is the Makerspace Movement: http://spaces.makerspace.com I’d also invite you to take a look at our Library and Learning Hub located in our Central York Middle School.
It is time to rethink our approach to information, content, its availability and the structure formally known only as the library.