Tag Archives: Library design

Natalie’s nook – what every school library needs!

Natalie's nook

Don’t you just love it!

We do :)

Natalie Elliott is our very creative Library Technician who loves finding ways to make our Library spaces more interesting and inviting for our students. We recently purchased this chair thinking that it matched our colour scheme. It sat around for  awhile looking lovely, whilst unbeknownst to us, Natalie was brewing grand plans for it that had been seeded from her love of all things Pinterest. Her forays into that web of fascinating ideas shared by many, led to the idea for the clever shelving and the inviting lampshade that helps to make this space so cosy.

We are very lucky to have such dedicated staff like Natalie who spend time outside of working hours thinking of ideas for our library space. Natalie is currently studying at Charles Sturt University to obtain her Librarian qualifications.  I know that we endorse her skill set – let’s hope that any assignment about library design allows her to share this post as a reference!

Here’s another view from a different angle.

Natalie's nook 2

Thanks Natalie – we love it!

 

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New additions to our library – including iPads as OPACS

We recently made some purchases for our new library that have helped to make the space feel more like our original plan for a comfortable, welcoming centre that meets the needs of our student population. I thought I’d share a few pics here.

We originally planned on having traditional computers as OPACS, but earlier in the year I saw a post on a listserv talking of how a school had used iPads for catalogue searching, and I redirected the planned funding to the purchase of four iPads. We have mounted an iPad cover to the end panels and insert the iPads in them every morning, and take them out for charging at the end of each day. Because they hold their charge so well, they last most of the day with the image fixed on our library catalogue. We have been really surprised at how much use they have had. There’s the novelty factor that kicked in early, but that’s worn off and they are getting consistent use as a search terminal. They’re a definite winner!

We made some purchases from Dare Gallery of couches and ottomans for the area we have coined the conference room space. It was full of flip tables and chairs, and even though it was easy to reconfigure for different occasions, it wasn’t part of the vision we had for the space. Even though Dare Gallery sent the wrong colour furniture (these couches and ottomans are supposed to be purple and lime! – they are sending replacements for us) their inclusion in the space has transformed its use. It feels so much friendlier, and class groups using the space gravitate to the couches. Teachers have commented on the changing feel of the room, and have recognised that we are moving closer to the vision we originally articulated.

Here’s a picture of a working library- messy circulation desk and all! The blue chairs aren’t part of our vision, but the vinyl lettering was, and using some key words on places like this desk and walls has added warmth and interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are a 1:1 laptop school, so there is not a pressing need for banks of computers throughout our library. The addition of this row of four Mac computers has made a difference to this space though. They are getting frequent use from students who come in during breaks without their laptops, and by students who have computers in for repair.

This ZigZag bookshelf and ottoman were other purchases from Dare gallery. It’s a cute little nook and we are planning to display new fiction, non fiction and magazines. It’s anice focal point when people enter the main library space, as you can see from the picture below. In the background, you can see a silver screen. These are tri panelled. We have purchased two of these and can see them being moved around to create private spaces for small groups.

The placement of this orange couch in front of our tiered beanbag room has helped to create another area for students to relax. They have really appreciated the inclusion of more couches into our library space.

We’ve been really pleased with the snake lounge (our term for the winding purpose built lounge that snakes through the main library space and defines areas) and the functionality it affords. At the end of term we used its benchtops to display holiday reading options for staff and students.

Our library is making its way to the original vision we had for the interior fit out. Hopefully our budgets will allow us to fulfill more of the vision we have for it in the coming year.

 

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Learning Spaces/Learning Futures forum at Bialik College

Today, Bialik College hosted a Learning Spaces/Learning Futures forum for their staff and members of other school communities. I was asked to sit on a forum panel at the end of the day and address questions posed from participants. I’d like to thank David Feighan for the invitation; it was an enlightening day and I was able to take away many ideas for our new library that is currently under construction.

Jon Peacock, General Manager, Learning Environments at the University of Melbourne, shared with us reasoning behind new generation designs of learning spaces. Considerations such as social inclusiveness, functionality for collaborative learning, comfort and even retention of students were all factors that have contributed to furniture selection and configurations of space. For someone who has this at the forefront of her thinking at the moment, it was fascinating. Jon shared with us the thinking that the University may not replace desktop computers when they reach a three year turnover if it is evident that students are bringing their own devices with them. They have student interns who act as facilitators to connect devices to networks; they look for students who have strong communication and mentoring skills as they are often catering to international students who are grappling with language barriers. This kind of thinking would bode well in many of our schools today; accept student owned devices for learning purposes regardless of platform, and encourage our student population to offer peer support with technology. An interesting idea was the University’s IT Pitstop, a place where students go to do printing, photocopying, quick searching and charging of devices. Interesting name; maybe something we could utilise. Jon shared with us many visuals of learning spaces at Melbourne University; it’s very impressive, and I’m thinking it will be worth visiting to glean new ideas that we can apply to the space we will be developing.

Dr. Leon Sterling, Dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology, spoke about the changing nature of new technologies and their potential impact for education. He drew heavily from the Horizon Reports from the the last three years and made some interesting comments about opensource courseware like that provided from places like MIT. Leon was unsure that students would access such resources. I’m pretty sure they will, but I don’t think they’re going to stumble on these kinds of resources without being alerted to them first. I recently came across Khan Academy via a twitter link, and think I’ll be pointing students towards it. Here’s what it says on the site;

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Despite being the work of one man, Salman Khan, this 1600+ video library is the most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users per month. We are complementing this ever-growing library with user-paced exercises–developed as an open source project–allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.

Interesting philosophy, one that marries quite well with the intentions of Students 2.0. I ran a series of sessions in that space about the tools of social networking, but we failed to see student participation. Is it just that the kids aren’t interested, or is it that they just don’t know the possibilities that exist for self directed learning today?

Leon mentioned that Swinburne University will possibly be offering a Graduate Certificate in Teacher Technologies, designed to assist teachers in getting up to speed with new ideas for teaching and learning. A great idea, and something so necessary today. This was something I discussed in the forum at the end of the day. My concern lies with the human capital we have in our school systems today. Many of us dealing with new technologies are the product of self directed learning. We have skilled ourselves up without being sent to expensive professional development. We have immersed ourselves in learning communities and many of us are attempting to educate others by sharing our knowledge. But how many people are there like this, and is the spread enough to ensure the school system has access to this kind of skill set? My bet is there aren’t too many, and this is the challenge facing our governments who need to ensure we have workers armed with the skills necessary for working successfully in a knowledge economy. Something like what Leon was suggesting will be worth it, but how much will courses cost, and will our systems fund teacher participation? I’ll be very interested to see the outcome of upcoming election. My hope is that a Labor Govt. is returned. I want to see the vision they have for the digital revolution unfold, and a large part of what is promised is teacher professional development. It is key if we are to see real change realised.

Dr. Scott Bulfin, from the Faculty of Education at Monash University, spoke about rethinking the approaches to new media in schools today. Scott spoke of some challenging research he has conducted across 25 schools about the use of technology in education. His research saw students engaging in unsanctioned technology practices at school, and students complaining of being bored with school authorized work they were doing with technology. My take on this relates to my forementioned point. Teacher professional development is key if we are going to see teachers using the technology meaningfully in classrooms for teaching and learning purposes. People need to be exposed to a range of possibilities and make discerning choices about what they think may work with the students they have.

Mary Manning from SLAV was with me and the aforementioned speakers in the forum discussion at the end of the day. Questions from the audience were well considered, and saw us debating content knowledge necessary for VCE study, versus the skills needed for learning beyond the school years. It’s a vexed issue, considering that University entrance in Australia is underpinned by scores based on students ability to know content. Leon Sterling raised the idea that universities will move to interview format and teacher feedback to determine university entrance. How refreshing would that be, and wouldn’t it be the linchpin that could change the focus of education at the senior years of schooling.

I found the day very worthwhile, and applaud Bialik College, David Feighan and the school’s Principal, Joseph Gerassi, for organising some wonderful speakers and proactively thinking about what is important for students today. On their school website, Joseph talked of their foremost priority as being, “… to educate tomorrow’s leaders, by infusing them with the life skills to master the challenges posed by an ever-changing world.” Today was evidence of a school actively seeking to make that a reality.

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Reinvention – stage one

I feel like I’ve hardly been here of late. There have been plenty of things to write about, but, quite honestly, no time to write about any of them. I’ve been pretty time poor because we’ve been in the process of relocating our school library to temporary accommodation in preparation for the construction of a new library in 2010. It’s all very exciting, but any new development means that you need to evaluate what you need and what you can do without.

We’ve had a bit of time to think about this, hence our decision to do something like delete the VHS collection. Knowing we were moving and were going to be constrained in terms of space, we figured it was time to make tough decisions like this one. We also deleted quite a bit of non-fiction, but truthfully, the collection is still quite large and needs further deleting. Our fiction collection is quite large but it does get significant usage; it’s the only print collection we intend on growing. Next year we intend to explore ebooks and see how to integrate more of these into our collection.

So, where are we now? We’ve moved from a substantial building with offices and space to house a collection and class spaces, to a double classroom and one other large room. First up, I’d like to thank ABR Relocations for doing a stellar job of moving our book collection and shelving. In two days, they moved the whole lot and set it up so that it looked even better than it did in its original location! Yes, we paid them, but a move like this is intense, back breaking work, and they did it in a very professional manner. Graeme and crew, thanks very much.

And here’s what girls will resort to when they think they can find a bargain, even if it is an old cushion discarded from your school library!

I thought you might like to see how we’ve set up the double classroom space. This is going to act as our main centre, housing fiction, some desktop computers (we’re a laptop school so don’t need huge banks of computers), and comfy, relaxed spaces encouraging our students to come in, take a look around, relax and read. It’s also housing our desks, and although it’s nice to be with the kids, some away space for planning etc is going to have to be factored in to help us maintain sanity!


In this picture, you can see Catalogue, our Library cat, taking a nap on our new rug!

I took these photos today, our first day back in operation.

The students have found us and are pretty happy with the new surrounds. There have been lots of comments about how much they like the space and how they think it’s better than the old library!

We were only closed for a week during this relocation. I am very grateful for all of the hard work undertaken by the library staff and maintenance staff at my school. It’s a trying process, but everyone contributed with good grace. I’m not sure how long we’re going to be here, but we’re going to do all we can to offer as good a library service as we possibly can given the space constraints we have.

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Everywhere is here – is that the school library of the future?

This is Guy Adam Ailion’s animation, an introduction to his Architectural Masters Thesis called EVERYWHERE IS HERE. He has posted it to YouTube and has included this explanatory text to accompany it;

What is a library when ‘everywhere is here’? This architectural animation explores the question of the role of the public library when digital information is everywhere and is everything. What happens to the spaces of books? and how should traditional spaces of information change for a digital world? Even better… in the developing world, how could the library nurture an information society, when people don’t have access at home? Could the future of the library be an urban information bar? or a theatre of knowledge? and what does that really mean anyway?

These are question not just for public libraries, but for school libraries too. I like his ideas. Thinking of libraries as ‘Urban information bars’, or ‘Theatres of Knowledge’ conjures images of busy bustling centres for all. Just the kind of environment that is equally important in a school setting. It’s important that students have a space where all are welcome, where everyone can congregate and share ideas, where everyone can ‘fit’ without worrying about cliques and social strata.

These are considerations that will occupy my thinking over the next six or so months. Our school has received funding for redevelopment of our School Library. While we have the exterior building design pretty much sorted, it’s the interior design and functionality of space that has me excited. As a library staff, we are looking to create something special that will meet our needs for the long term. We want comfort, a space that that is welcoming and creates a sense of belonging for our school community. We want to find new ways to utilise space, creating learning nooks and relaxing recreational areas. We want to be creative with signage and we want to rationalise our collection to meet the changing needs of our community of users. 

These are ideas we have been knocking around, but I think we need to go to our users and ask them what they would like to see happen in the space. We have a large display board, circa 1960’s I’ll have you note, and I’m going to create a banner to adorn it asking;

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR NEW SCHOOL LIBRARY?

I’m going to invite our students to share with us their thoughts and post them on this display board. I’m interested in finding out what they see as important.  They’re a creative lot, it’s more than likely that they will generate some ideas that we haven’t contemplated. What would be great would be if they could be really creative and produce designs for us to contemplate. I’m sure we could come up with a competition idea to support this with a prize or two that will help to get some creative juices flowing. Our kids learn how to create design briefs in their design and technology classes so we might as well give them a real life scenario to work towards. Perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised and find that they meld with our thinking or we may be even more surprised and find that they take our thinking to new places.   

Thanks to Marianne Lenox for pointing me in the direction of Guy’s animation. 

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