So our board is supporting  Learning Commons.  (Commonses?… Commonsi?) The libraries are being revamped to include research areas, collaborative spaces, creation spaces and maker spaces. As I have been collecting more information and going to more PD I have begun collection my reactions and ideas as honestly and truthfully as I can.

1. Collaborative Learning Environments

My librarian was always shushing me when I was in school. I wasn’t good at being silent — ever. But especially not in a creepily silent library. For some reason that was where I laughed, sneezed, exclaimed or fell down in an hysterical and noisy fashion.

Well, low and behold we get to talk in libraries now.  To each other! I know it sounds nuts, but kids get to talk to each other about stuff in the library. It’s amazing! Imagine five kids gathered around a big screen monitor, talking about what to find next and how to find it.  Just today I heard this exchange between my students:

Ann: so where do we start?

Brian: we need to look up geography tools to start, you know – things used by Geographers

Ann: ok so (typing) “what are some tools used by…”

Brian: (interrupting) not as a question. Just type key words. You’ll get better results.

Cathy: yup try ‘geography technology examples’

Ann: ok (types) hey look, there’s lots.

Brian: ok now let’s pick good ones. Find something with a site that ends in .edu

Cathy: why?

Brian: those are usually university or academic sites. Better chance the facts are right and current.

Ann: cool.

So they learn the ‘stuff’ that they are supposed to be studying, but by working with each other collaboratively they learn about so much more. It’s alive and exciting and real. Sign me up for SOLE stations and collaborative learning!
But it’s noisy. A good noisy, sure, but it will take some adjusting to.

2. Mess-Making Maker spaces

Think back to being a kid in kindergarten, and combine that with being a teenager in shop class. That’s what a maker space is all about. The general gist involves collecting a bunch of stuff that kids can use to build things and solve engineering and design problems. It includes everything from Lego to robotics kits to collections of cardboard and straws. You need a place to store projects in progress, finished builds, and all the bits and pieces that will inspire children to create and problem solve. It cries out for wall space and cupboards and bins and low maintenance flooring.

Again, not quiet. Kids don’t giggle quiet.

3. Creating, recording and production spaces:

Think claymation, video recording, green-screens and storyboards.  With the ease of iPads and the availability of apps for a fraction of the cost of video studios, children can film PSAs, book reviews, short films, documentaries, and a multitude of modern media.  Traditional art supplies find their place too, as does mobile media such as chrome books for research during the planning stages. I’m thrilled to see what they can come up with


4. Books?

Yup, the books are still in the library.  Fiction is especially needed in library spaces, since it inspires creativity and play and ideas and joy.  Non-fiction is trickier, because anything too out of date might not fit our new norms of content, perspective, and validity.  But those books still have a place in our hearts, and our LCs.


But how does it all go together?

And this is where we’re at right now.  How do we take a space that used to be for books, and make is a space for books & collaborative learning & makerspaces & video & claymation & construction…. It’s still the same space.


I’m currently thinking tables that move and flexible groupings are the way to go, and using those library shelves as dividing walls to partition some areas. We’re not sure what it will look like when it’s done, but we know it wont look like a traditional library anymore.  I personally can’t wait ’til the unveiling. 🙂




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