One of the largest spaces in any school is the media center. Unfortunately this space hasn’t gotten much attention or thought as the way in which we learn has evolved over the past 150 years.
In many cases the library is still thought of as a place to keep books. And I don’t mean e-books. In fact, the media center of 2012 and beyond should be a place for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. As Common Core puts more emphasis on performance tasks (also called projects), research and informational texts, the library is even more mission-critical than ever.
Kate Rix writes in “Are Librarians Still Important?” (Scholastic Administrator Magazine, Back to School 2012) “the more robust the library program, the better students do academically. Not only that, but a credentialed teacher-librarian can become another instructional leader in the building and a go-to resource for the principal.”
Here in Forsyth County Schools, we are re-thinking the design and layout of the space as well as re-inventing the role of the media specialist.
Some areas of consideration for the physical space include:
- Food – Think about it – if you had a choice between hanging out at Starbucks with your coffee and free wifi or going to a place where you couldn’t have food, which would you choose?
- Noise Level – The days of shushing people in the library are over. As previously mentioned this is a place for students and adults to communicate.
- Comfort and Flexibilty – Hard wooden furniture that takes 5 people to move when you need a difference configuration don’t make sense in today’s learning environment. And we’re all more likely to sit in the “comfy chair” aren’t we?
- Open and Close Times – The media center needs to be open when patrons need it and that means allowing having an assistant come in early and letting the media specialist come in late. Or using volunteers or setting up a duty station in the media center.
- Do we need Dewey? – I think I may have blasphemed by uttering that phrase, but think about your experience of looking for what you want in the brick and mortar bookstore or even in the online sources. Do you go to the 900’s to find biographies? I think not.
- Less Paper, More Digital – In our district we’ve made a big push towards BYOT and as we move more and more personal devices, we see our patrons wanting to read on their device rather than by checking out the physical book. We’re exploring lots of digital content. And still our biggest frustration is the publishers’ unwillingness to allow for eBook circulation.