It has been about a year since I started this blog with my friend and fellow media specialist Cheryl Angel. I have had a slow start. The year since I wrote my first post has been a very difficult one for me and I’ve definitely been distracted from meeting goals that I had, like blogging on a regular basis. As I reflect on the year I realize that with the bad did come some good, especially in the media center. This year I was given a great gift of support and funding from my school’s PTO and this summer my school’s media center is getting a “refresh”.
I began working as a media specialist in the media center at my current school two years ago and at that time I thought I was incredibly lucky to have such a large, open space. I also realized I was lucky to have a computer for every student, a story pit area, lots of tables for group work, and a great collection of books. Before moving into the library I taught third grade for many years, so my vision of our library program continues to evolve. As it has evolved, I began to realize that the library space itself wasn’t evolving and it wasn’t meeting our needs anymore. It was time to rethink the media center space. My students felt the same way and they played an integral role in how our library space will change. I hope to share with you the process we went through in the next few blog posts and to document the ways our space has changed, as well.
We decided to call our redesign process a “refresh” because refresh means to provide new vigor and energy, to stimulate, to make fresh again, and to freshen in appearance. The first thing that I did was to do some research about library spaces. This research started my first year in the library and I read books and articles, watched webinars, and visited lots of public and school library spaces (including some media centers in our district that had the same layout as ours). If you are embarking a project like this for your library or classroom I recommend The Third Teacher and The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for the 21st Century. Both of these resources apply to all educational spaces. For redesigning library spaces specifically, the books Library Spaces for 21st Century Learners and The Learning Commons: 7 Simple Steps to Transform your Library will be helpful. The most useful tip from the Learning Commons resource was to keep track of the questions kids ask over and over (and the things that most bug you over and over about your space) and use those things as a place to begin your change. For example, even though I had functional tables I was constantly moving them around to accommodate for meetings in the library and students working in groups (and they are heavy!) So our new tables are on casters to allow for the flexibility we needed.
Demco also has a great webinar series for library media specialists looking to make changes to their spaces. I highly recommend watching the following webinars about library spaces:
Next time I will write about how my students became involved, the goals that we developed as a result, and how we started to gain support from our PTO. I’m looking forward to sharing our refresh with you!