Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category
Posted in Libraries, Library Promotion, tagged 21st Century education, learning, North Carolina State University, reading, research, The Hunt Library, university library on November 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
The Hunt Library at North Carolina State University, opened in January of this year, is a state of the art library incorporating design and ideas that challenge current thinking about the purpose of libraries in the 21st Century.
Aiming to encourage creativity and collaboration the library incorporates a mind blowing range of incredible spaces including a gaming lab, a creative studio with floor-to-ceiling projector screen and makerspaces fitted out with 3D printers. The library is replete with glass surfaces – walls and tables – on which students are free to write, to discuss to exchange and explore ideas. White boards abound allowing students to teach and learn from each other. The incredible range and variety of spaces which include 80 different kinds of chairs are intended to inspire and engage students.
Not forgotten though are the books that normally sustain the main purpose of a library. Instead of traditional shelving though, books at The Hunt Library are stored 6 metres below the first floor where two million volumes are packed into a fraction of the space that conventional shelving would occupy. Browsing the collection on the digital catalogue students’ book selections are delivered within five minutes by BookBot, a robotic system.
Describing the design and nature of Hunt Library in an article, The University library of the future, Erin Millar summarises the words of Martha Whitehead, Head Librarian at Queens University, saying:
The primary function of libraries continues to be finding information; what has changed is the nature of the questions being asked. Students used to come to libraries to find what Whitehead calls “quick facts” (easily looked up now online) but now they come with complex inquiries. They want to know what type of information exists on a topic and how their own work fits into the scholarly literature landscape. This shift reflects how universities have changed teaching to better prepare students for the 21st century, Whitehead says.
“It’s less about the instructor imparting information to the student than about the skill set to be a lifelong learner — how to think, how to inquire and how to learn.”
This video describing the design and features of Hunt Library certainly poses much food for thought, not only on the direction of libraries of the future, but on how our current libraries can be re-thought to be more appealing to our student population.
Anyone reading care to give it a go?
Created by Ryan Ireland for the Greene County Public Library, I just love this montage about libraries, librarians and library patrons!
Short of ideas on how to promote reading?
Try adopting this idea of Roger Billing of Abbots Langley School Association, who wanted to ‘set the tone’ in his new position as Head Teacher.
Purchasing an unused bus, Billing set about inspiring students, staff and the school community to come up with a design, paint the bus and fit it out. The resulting bus library set in the school grounds is now a hive of activity as students vie to read and borrow books from the burgeoning collection!
All that’s needed to convert a pay phone into a pop-up library is some custom-made shelves and a pile of books!
Using plywood consoles that slip over payphones, John Locke has big plans to fashion sidewalk payphones in New York into engaging locations that will encourage people to read more!
A nice idea!
Libraries of the 21st Century – both public libraries and school libraries – face constant challenges:
Service library patrons.
For those of us working in libraries, it’s no secret that the challenges are great. Not only do we need to ensure that the library spaces we manage meet the above criteria, but we, ourselves, need to continually upskill and ‘move with the times’. Without a doubt, the key word here is continually! While our knowledge of literature and our ability to manage information resources are a constant, our ability to ‘move with the times’ and to stay informed of current and future technologies are equally essential. Being computer savvy, knowing how to sift through the voluminous information that today can be sourced both physically and digitally alongside having an understanding of how our library patrons can use this information are skills that need continual refinement.
I came across and interesting article recently: In the Digital Age, What Becomes of the Library? which is on the MindShift blog. Many of the ideas mentioned in this comprehensive article are neither new nor original. They are the sort of ideas that as professionals working in libraries, we know and recognize. But, as I read, I found myself thinking, expanding on ideas and thoughts presented. Here’s an annotated summary of my thoughts about the words I processed as I read. Others may like to expand on these thoughts even further.
- Reading is the ‘core business’ of libraries. Without doubt, reading is an essential life skill, a skill that libraries are in a perfect position to support. Developing a love of reading by providing a warm nurturing environment which houses a rich and varied storehouse of reading material freely available and easily accessible to its patrons, is a major focus of libraries. Catering to a wide range of patrons, the challenge to provide current, relevant and inspiring resources can be a constant challenge.
- Technology has impacted significantly on libraries. Rethinking the kind of resources housed in our libraries as well as how these resources will be accessed are issues at the forefront of our changing libraries. Digital delivery of both literature and information see the need for libraries to purchase and loan eBooks, introduce online databases and enable phone apps to locate reference material. In turn, the introduction of this technology into our libraries impacts on the physical nature of our libraries. Reference sections of libraries for example are being replaced with digital access points. Online databases are replacing reference collections. Purchasing and loaning banks of eReaders to enable onsite access to digital resources are becoming the norm.
- Libraries are being transformed. As libraries take on a central role in their schools or their communities, it is natural that they become transformed to multi-purpose spaces where a range of events and activities can be held: club meetings, learning labs, community gatherings, lectures, talks and game venues to name but a few. The notion of libraries transforming from being ‘houses of knowledge’ to ‘houses of access’ is becoming apparent to those of us working in libraries. Libraries are increasingly becoming “the hub of learning, collaboration, of community, of diversity, of innovation.”
- Changed roles of library staff. Automated functions, such as RFID which allows patrons to check out materials themselves, are altering the traditional roles of library staff. Demands on library staff to trouble shoot and solve technical problems have increased dramatically. The need to incorporate IT and AV skilled staff to assist both library staff and library patrons is evident.
- Developing lifelong learners. One of the most important functions of library staff is to not just find answers for library patrons, but to teach them how to find answers for themselves. Teaching is an essential component of the role of those of us working in libraries.
- Inevitably there are always constraints. “How and when libraries move into the future is largely determined by budget and local politics, and make figuring out what’s next for libraries complex and murky………” The latest technology, cool tech gadgets, longer opening hours, and more staff who have specialized skills that can maintain computers, trouble shoot technical issues, build library websites and drive innovative practice are sorely needed in all libraries. Sadly, it’s rare for the funding to be there to support grand plans.
- Libraries are a melting pot. Libraries provide a wealth of free activities and classes and house an enormous cache of resources for patrons to use, borrow and enjoy. The range and variety of library patrons is no surprise. Our public libraries attract rich people and homeless people, the young and the elderly and everyone in between. There is no discrimination, no exclusion. All are welcome to share and indulge. A “unique interaction … takes place between the users, the librarians and the materials in the physical space of the library building …” It is no wonder libraries continue to flourish.
A pop-up-library, designed and built by Nick Korody of Los Angeles district Pacific Palisades, has appeared just outside the Canyon Charger School.
Developed as part of his architecture and urban studies course, it’s always pleasing to see any kind of initiative that promotes reading and literature!
It’s a daring question to pose to those of us working in school libraries ….. but ….. clearing out the entire book collection is exactly what has happened in one school library in Minneapolis in the US.
Seen to be responding to the February 2012 Obama Administration’s challenge to schools to embrace digital textbooks within 5 years, Benilde-St Margaret’s last year scrapped its entire print collection to create a learning space where students and staff can meet to share ideas, research and access online databases on iPads, laptops or computers, or to just read!
I first read about this story in an article in the January 20th issue of the Huffington Post: Minneappolis School Library Without Books Thrives After Clearing Entire Print Collection. Quoting the high school Principal, Sue Skinner, the report is, as expected, upbeat in its praise of the task undertaken. While a few books were left in the library for ‘reference’, teachers throughout the school were able to take books they wanted for their classroom libraries. All the remaining books were packaged up and donated to schools in Africa.
Responsibility for the dismantling of the library seems to have been completed by none other than the school principal. In the new digital Benilde library, Math and Literacy coaches work with students as they research using online databases such as Gale and ProQuest. A look at the school website is a little frightening though. There is no mention of a school library or library staff. So who then directs this new library? Sadly, no one!
Digging a little deeper for more information about this story, I found a very comprehensive report on School Library Journal. Incorporating a far more in depth interview with the school Principal, Sue Skinner, the clincher comes when Skinner confides that the current librarian is retiring and that a search is underway for a visionary leader who holds similar views to Skinner to take the concept forward. Some of the ‘tongue in cheek’ comments following this article reflect the range of thoughts and questions that virtually all Teacher Librarians working in schools would want to pose!
A mixture of creativity and benevolence is behind Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff’s conversion of a car into a tank.
By taking an old 1979 Ford Falcon, a popular car used by the army during the dictatorship, and converting it into a tank laden with books, Lemesoff symbolically demonstrates how acts of war and hate can be transformed into acts of peace and love.
Revamped as a tank, the car, which Lemesoff named Weapon of Mass Instruction (Arma De Instruccion Masiva) has 900 publications stacked into it. Touring the country from end to end, Lemesoff takes pleasure giving books that have been privately donated to his project away to readers of all ages.
With the aim to bring literature to places where it can’t be found, to share education and to allow others to have a good time, Lemesoff says that his effort is
a contribution to peace through literature.”
An amazing effort – no?!
In this, the National Year of Reading, all our efforts are focused on encouraging students to engage with reading and to explore the many advantages and benefits it has to offer..
Coming across this feel good story in China Daily of Chinese High School student Liu Jiahao, keen to provide opportunities for the impoverished children in the city of Changzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, by building a library is indeed uplifting.
Liu said the library will help poverty-stricken students and inspire more people to read.