What does your library space encourage?

On July 25th I attended UQL Cyberschool’s annual seminar. Karen Bonanno from Eduwebinar spoke about learning spaces and the future of dynamic libraries.

She spoke about how great spaces encourage students to:

  • Focus
  • Collaborate
  • Create
  • Share
  • Socialise

I thought today I would reflect on these five elements in my own library to investigate what I’m doing well, ok or not so well and what I could do to improve these spaces and their functionality.

I love our new Picture Book Nook. Even for older students, it's nice to have inviting reading spaces.

I love our new Picture Book Nook. Even for older students, it’s nice to have inviting reading spaces.

I thought about key questions to ask regarding each of the five elements:

FOCUS

  • Do students know how to use the space? Is it apparent and signed?
  • Does the space encourage reading?
  • Does it facilitate meaningful learning?
  • Does it assist students in finding the information they want?

COLLABORATE

  • Are there welcoming, functional spaces that encourage groups and group learning?
  • Do the spaces reflect what teachers want students to do in groups or what students want to do in groups?

CREATE

  • What does the space encourage students to create (if anything) or are students passive participants?

SHARE

  • How does the space celebrate students’ achievements and creations?
  • What student input or influence is present in the space?

SOCIALISE

  • How does the space encourage recreation and relaxation?
  • Are there spaces specifically for studetns on their own or in groups?
  • In what ways do students use the space that were not planned for or expected?

 

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Overall:

  • Manga and graphic novel display created and managed by junior students.
  • Art work regularly displayed throughout year, especially during art display week and presentation evening (a “cheese and wine” styled night with outsides judges).
  • Socialising and social collaboration are well catered for (“mushroom” and “button” seating areas), but formal group work spaces are boring!
  • Using the space for learning and research is not as intuitive and self-explanatory as intended (for example, lots of students go to the front desk to ask for titles)
  • Although the space tries to encourage sharing and celebration of student work, actual creation beyond traditional texts (assignments etc.) is limited.
  • Students often use the back of the library behind the non-fiction section to sit alone and read. Is it worth acknowledging these spaces by putting in seating such as bean bags, or is it nice for students to have informal, special-feeling space?
  • Planning: Turn half of “alcove” space into booth seating with screen and HDMI cables to create group collaboration spaces.
  • Investigate Fab Labs or Makerspace (school already has 3D printer).

 

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