Modern School Libraries: A Place of Learning and Collaboration

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When you think of school libraries are you thinking of them as places to enhance creativity, collaboration, and learning or old-fashioned book depositories? Is your staff member called a librarian or library media specialist reflecting the technology component of the position? Today’s school libraries are more than places for storytime and book searches. They are often the literacy and technology core of the school. For the past four years I have been involved with the construction of our new school. I had the opportunity to start from scratch and give input on what kind of library I thought our school should have. The architects designed a library space that is completely versatile. When our school opened this fall, it featured a library equipped for a changing learning environment. To teach lessons, I have an ActivBoard, a document camera, and a hard-wired computer teaching station. Students sit at tables and chairs that can be moved easily. In just a few minutes, I can change the library from a classroom, to a meeting area, to a gathering place. We can Skype with authors or meet with them in person. Technology advancements mean library needs to accommodate all modalities of learning. Books are displayed by genre in wall shelving with tall windows allow for natural sunlight. Additional books are arranged on rolling carts. Clear hanging shelves with forward facing covers grab the attention of readers for quick and comfortable browsing. These kind of arrangements allow for conversations about books to happen naturally in front of favorite book shelves. Bright colored walls and large reading posters resemble contemporary bookstore interiors. Window seats and corner nooks give readers quiet places to read. Lightweight lounge style chairs and couches can be re-arranged for a variety of seating options. Students working on projects can choose to sit at tables or on the carpeted floor. At recess, the library hums with the sounds of kids talking, playing word games or making crafts. Anyone wanting to do research can bring their mobile devices to the library and access the internet wirelessly. Students sprawl across the soft seating cubes completely immersed in their books. Nobody patrols the library as the “shush” police insisting on silence. Today’s libraries are vibrant spaces designed for both reading and collaborative, interactive learning.

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