Educational Expertise: How Would You Redesign a School Library?October 13, 2011 | Elena Aguilar
A friend recently got her Master's in Library Science and became the librarian at a middle school. She walked into a room that hadn't been modified since the previous librarian assumed her position some 35 years ago.
Adorning the shelves were dozens of trophies from the school's sports teams and random tchotchkes collecting dust. Her predecessor supposedly was a strict woman whom teachers loved (because she happily helped with menial tasks) and children feared.
My enthusiastic, out-going, book-loving friend is in the process of developing her vision of what this school library could be. She began redecorating, hoping to cover the walls in posters that will inspire students to read and make the space welcoming to 13-year-olds. She apparently already has something of a following -- kids cram into the small, poorly-ventilated space before school and during lunch, engaging her in conversation about their home and love lives and getting recommendations for books.
I'm hoping that some of you out there still have school libraries, and perhaps librarians within them, or maybe you just remember those days. I'd love to gather some ideas to pass on to my friend. Here are my questions:
1. What roles have librarians played that you most appreciated? What have they done -- with kids, in support of teachers, with the whole staff, with families -- that you found most enhanced a literacy program at your school?
2. What are the most ideal ways to physically arrange a library? What have they looked like that you and your students most appreciated? (Furniture, lighting, seating arrangements, computers, etc.)
3. What do you think are the most valuable digital or audio resources for a library? Audio books? Encyclopedias? What would you buy in addition to books?
4. What strategies have librarians and faculty used to get kids excited about the library and reading?
5. Finally, she needs recommendations for books. The kids are really into The Hunger Games series, but what can they read after that? In addition, many of the students are English Language Learners who read below grade level. Please suggest books that are accessible to their skill level but of interest to a 13- or 14-year-old.
I'm also curious how many libraries and librarians still exist out there. Please share any stories about your school's library (past or present) and any "best practices" you've seen. I know that my friend is eager and willing to implement just about anything that might spread a passion for books, so please share.
Thank you, Edutopians. Your ideas, suggestions and experiences are much appreciated!