Magazine article Technology & Learning

New & Improved Libraries

Magazine article Technology & Learning

New & Improved Libraries

Article excerpt

Early in my career as a classroom teacher, I remember building a reading tree house and an outdoor classroom with large rocks as seats. Now in this digital age. I believe that the whole world can be our platform. We should seek to leverage the power of multiple platforms, across the physical and virtual spheres to reach and engage all learners. This kind of thinking has carried through to my position as library media specialist at New Milford High School (NMHS) in New Milford, NJ. When I was faced with the task of making an outdated, drab, and unused library relevant, I had to get creative. My long-term goal was to help the school improve student performance by working to create an exciting and engaging learning environment for all.

Inspired by the work of Pixar Animation Studios, my goal was to turn my library into what they have dubbed, a "constant learning organization." I was further inspired by the t-shirt company, 'Threadless,' who "puts everyone in charge" and defines company as community. Much like Threadless' customers, the students and staff at NMHS are interested and passionate about what they do, and are bursting with ideas, skills, and knowledge. I also discovered that they were keen to become part of the solution for our new library. I wanted the learning space in our library to reflect the reality of our learners by allowing them to contribute to creating a dynamic community. My goal was for them to feel empowered and learn with and from each other.

It was with all of these things in mind that I embarked on two major initiatives. The first was the creation ora "Makerspaec" in the library. In creating this informal learning space. I spent the first few weeks of the school year watching the usage patterns of the first few students who came into the library, speaking to them about their interests, and even peering over their shoulders as they used their devices to ensure I had a firm grasp on what they would want in their Makerspace. At the same time, I looked carefully at the existing curriculum and programs that the school was offering. It was at that point that I developed themes for our Makerspace. I ordered materials to support the themes I came up with and then went to work on designing the space. To set up the physical space, I used my school's existing resources, including old library tables and bookshelves. …

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