By Deborah Williams
The abundance of digital media has caused librarians to rethink how they will serve their patrons. Some public libraries offer previously unimagined uses, and the new uses are evolving. MindShift’s Luba Vangelova, posted an article about an innovative school library that provides a glimpse into what the next generation of school libraries may resemble. The library at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia has been re-designed, and it is not your grandmother’s school library!
Monticello’s library is not the quiet research space that we may associate with a library; it’s a “Learning Commons.” Librarian Joan Ackroyd explains, “People no longer have to come to a library to get information, so the library has to get people coming in for different reasons.” She and her staff made several changes:
- The book collection was moved to one wall so that space for glass-walled collaboration rooms were erected.
- Offices and storage rooms are now student areas.
- Reading lounge areas that include comfortable modular seating with tables and chairs and stools for ease of movement have been set up.
- Two music studios were established.
- The library now has a HackerSpace that contains high-tech equipment such as a microscope, 3D printer, gaming hardware and software, and a green screen for filming.
- A Maker Space is an area that has a 3D printer and “where old technology can be disassembled and re-configured with other materials.”
- Students may use their cell phones to play games, as long as they are not first-person shooter games. (The county’s internet filters help with this.)
It took a while, but students learned that with the new freedoms that such a resource provides comes responsibility. At first, students weren’t studying. Now, students have adjusted’ they even police each other if someone becomes too disruptive.
Teachers still can hold classes there if they want their classes to do research or if they need more equipment and personnel.
Despite a school population of 1,104, the library “logs more than 33,000 student visits per year outside class time…” The Virginia School Boards Association in its “Showcases for Success” recognized the Monticello High School Library.
Learn more about another school that transformed an elementary library to a learning commons: