Renovation is not the be-all

I have just read an interesting blog post by Laura Fleming which argues that if the library isn’t being used, just changing the space won’t make a difference. She says you should bring about a revolution in the culture of the library before trying to renovate. Laura is very emphatic on the importance of student input when considering changing space organisation, furnishings, technology and of course choosing resources. It is refreshing to see something which does not rely upon spending $$$ on the latest new furniture in the hopes that the ‘shiny’ will be attractive enough to bring in more users.

Key takeaways:

  • repurpose your existing fittings, furnishings and equipment
  • get student input
  • let students choose books
  • meet student needs

Things which might be a hard sell in my school? Food in the library, or games in the senior library. I believe that the school executive would like to improve the academic tone of the senior school, including in the library (statements at the start of the year about the library as a quiet study space), so I might not get a lot of support for radically changing that.

Spatial difficulties: we have an echo-y glass box for our SS library, which makes things like private study spaces difficult. What I would love to do is have diner-style bench + table seating along at least part of one wall which would give students places to work together but keep the noise of conversations down to a manageable level. Some more variety in the rest of the seating would also be welcome. An idea I heard from another TL recently is to apply an adhesive whiteboard surface to the top of existing tables – quick and relatively cheap way to provide write-on tables. (quick look puts a piece large enough to cover a 4-person table at about $90; new whiteboard desks start at $250+)


Food for thought…


Defining literacies

This statement from the US National Council of Teachers of English is interesting:

“Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to

    • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
    • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
    • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
    • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
    • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
    • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.”

Not much there is “traditional” literacy, but all are so important now!


Standing desks?

If it is good enough for Claude Monet, I should take this idea seriously! Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons

This idea has been floating around the internet for a little while now. I just read an article about trialling standing desks with students at school, using pedometers to measure activity levels over time, which said that the measurements showed increased activity across all grades, the younger the student the more they moved about. Anecdotal reports from teachers claimed higher attention/engagement from students too, although this was not specifically measured – that sounds like a great opportunity for someone (not me, but someone in the education-engagement research field).

Working in a school library I have break-time supervision duties every day, and often find that the easiest way to get some work done while keeping an eye on my customers is to put my laptop or iPad on the end of a bookshelf right in the middle of the Library. I am able to answer emails or read articles while still being aware of what’s going on around me, and I am very easy for students to find when they need help.

Looking around my office with built-in cabinetry, I am not sure how I could change this space to allow a standing desk with or without a stool… I suppose some kind of mini-table or shelf arrangement on top of my existing desk would work…

A quick online search and I have found an excellent set of ideas here, a Pinterest collection here, an amazing idea for putting a desk over a treadmill to keep you moving gently all day here, and of course Lifehacker has a collection here.

I am quite interested in trying this, but will have to think further about what I can do to set it up in the space I work in.



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