Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lessons Learned in 1:1 : We're Going to Need a Bigger Library

What's that you say?  A bigger library?  We thought all those electronic books and database thingys didn't take up as much room?  BTW, isn't print dead with the students and their electronic wizbangs?

A library is more than a collection of books... consider the Library of Alexandria circa 145 BCE...

 "...the library comprised a Peripatos walk, gardens, a room for shared dining, a reading room, meeting rooms and lecture halls." (from Wikipedia entry

Guess, what... scholars, whether they be 13 or 31 or 85, still need spaces to read, meet, discuss, collaborate and sit in quiet reflection.  The modern view of the library as Information Commons, or even better Learning Commons, requires space and investment.

Over at Confessions of a Jesuit School CIO, +JD Ferries-Rowe has been discussing the redesign of classroom space in a 1:1 BYOT learning environment.  Consider this the sister post - Redesign the Library.  Taking ideas from Susan McMullen (US Academic Libraries: Today's Learning Commons Model) and Dr. Paul Mihailidis (Media Literacy and the Learning Commons in the Digital Age) among others, design discussions revolve around the need for spaces to promote:

  • Collaboration
  • Reflection
  • Research
  • and yes, Reading

In our current space (picture to the right) we've tried some band-aid approaches.  But as you can see... we are nowhere near providing the spaces our students need.  In recent surveys, students responded they wanted both quiet and collaborative spaces.  Students reported enjoying the quieter atmosphere of the library as compared to the louder social spaces of the cafeteria or student commons.  Surprisingly to me, the highest ranked "favorite thing about the library" was the good ole study carrel.  The highest ranked "suggested changes or additions" was group tables.  Followed by "more space"...  

Hmmm... I can take a hint.  We need a bigger library!  And by bigger, I mean more space and more flexible use of said space.

So what does the vision look like?  The new library should be about more than simple information transfer. We need to look at creation, communication and consumption of all information - electronic, print, image, auditory, touch and kinesthetic. A space like Alexandria where scholars come together to engage knowledge in all formats - especially the human interaction kind.  

Items on my list (still in idea phase so no pictures) include:
  • Reclaimed space in existing footprint (we have a rabbit warren of offices, storage and even a hallway to nowhere in the existing space that can be reclaimed for student learning).
  • A welcome desk/reference desk at the main point of entry
  • Flexible furniture including tables, ottomans, chairs, benches to promote collaboration
  • Small conference style rooms for presentation design and practice, tutoring or collaboration requiring a little more noise (and therefore soundproofing) 
  • Study carrels and single, soft seating 
  • Computer lab - with sliding glass wall to create teaching space when needed.
  • IT and Library staff located together in the space for full information services.
  • Taking a page from retail space design - louder, brighter attractive space at the front of the library.  As the learner moves through the space the more reflective and quiet the space becomes (think Macy's... the flashy seasonal sale items up front and the soft, quiet bedding in the back).
So if you think 1:1 will end the need for your library... stop.  Chances are you're going to need more space.  The library will become the hub of collaboration and integration.  It will become a key to your ed tech initiative's success.  Be ready...

No comments:

Post a Comment