Sunday, August 09, 2009

Vision for the Library

So, I have spent the summer thinking hard about my goals for the coming year. What is my big goal in terms of the school library. What is my vision? What can the library be for students and teachers? How do we get there? I have been lucky to find and benefit of so many experts in the field. I thought I'd share my learning and thinking. There are really no answers here, just pieces of inspiration I've found as I've been thinking through this coming school year in the library.

It is such an interesting time to be new to the field of school library. As a new school librarian, I am busy catching up on reading and thinking specific to the field. I've spent a lot of time on the ALA website and reading articles that help me think through the current thinking in the field. I have followed several discussions in the blog world. There was quite a lively conversation this spring about libraries. Since I am fairly new to the field, I listen in a lot--But this conversation involved librarians as well as people who were questioning the role of libraries. Joyce Valenza chimed in on a School Library Journal blog stating:

"What is clear is that a lot of smart people--people who are out there teaching, speaking, moving, and shaking--are disappointed in what they see when they see school librarians. Either we have a perception problem or we need to do some serious retooling. I'd say we have to deal with both. In a hurry."

This is definitely where my thinking is lately--how do rethink what the library can be--what is possible. Not an easy thing to figure out because I want so much in terms of possibility.

I have always believed in the power of play and in the fact that there is a very fine line between work and play when the work is work we love. I LOVE this quote by Buffy Hamilton at the Unquiet Librarian:

"Through collaboration with the library and the use of a wide range of information sources and learning tools, together we could create this kind of learning experience via research in which students would not want to stop and would want to learn."

Another post that got me thinking this summer was from Kim Cofino. The new library they've created is GORGEOUS. Who wouldn't want to spend as much time as possible in there. GREAT LIBRARIES!

I love the idea of a Kinko's For Kids as suggested by David Warlick in his post last May. He says, "If the library might come to be seen more as a workshop where information isn't so much a product, as it is raw material (a Kinko's for Kids, if you will), then it may remain not only viable, but an essential institution."
Personally, I LOVE Kinko's. I try to find reasons to buy some of the little tools that are sold there. I love the counter with the paperclips, paper cutter, etc. So many possibilities for what to create. Kinko's is all about making great "stuff".

Through Kim, I found The Allen Centre. This amazing library and the people who run it have been kind enough to email me about the things they do. When I first saw the pictures, it was like someone had already created the library I had been dreaming of. So many ways for kids to find things to be interested in. How could a child not go into the Allen Centre without a sense of wonder and inquiry. The place invites questions and learning and finding the things you are passionate about. I love the link to the displays--it is one of my favorites on this particular wiki. So many engaged children around such interesting topics. Such smart invitations into learning. I was also excited when I saw the Dino-lite that is part of the Allen Centre. I immediately purchased one for our library. I am amazed at the images produced by this not-so-expensive digital microscope. This space helps me to see the possibilities for inviting kids to find the things they love to learn about. What better purpose for a library?

I loved this recent post about the Allen Centre--so many things going on at lunch. Kids in charge of their own learning in so many different ways.

Like many other school librarians, I am trying to work through the balance of books and technology. So many of us that I talk to are trying to figure out this balance--which is more important--books or technology? For me, I am not sure it is an either or. In my own life as a literate person, books are hugely important but so are my social networks, my tools, etc. They are all part of my days as a literate person. Darren Draper has a powerful little equation about libraries without technology on his blog. What happens when we, as media specialists, ignore technology?

Darren Draper again tells us what he thinks of when he thinks of The Ideal School Library. He says,
"In my opinion, the ideal school library is highly liberating and able to provide a learning environment that's not generally feasible, practical, or even possible in most traditional classrooms. While there always seem to be exceptions to every rule, I think that our libraries should be comfortable, collaborative, open, social, connective, modern, clean, up-to-the-minute, and with shooshing not generally required."

I recently discovered a great blog Getting Boys to Read. There are several posts that have helped me think through the kind of environment that would make kids, especially boys, WANT to come to the library. He even has a great post dedicated to the topic of GETTING BOYS INTO THE LIBRARY.

And then there is the question of gaming. What role should games play in a school library? I have been reading lots on the topic-catching up on the ALA documents, research, etc. I have been picking up games over the summer and plan to participate in National Gaming Day sponsored by ALA. I have lots of reading to do on this topic, but I definitely see the value in this.

And Wesley Fryer recently talked about an Internet Cafe that focuses on gaming in his town--a great place for young people. How do we create communities like this in our libraries?

I also watched this video on Today's Library. Some great thoughts by some brilliant people in the field.

So, pretty much I want it all....I want to create a space that has something for everyone. A space where students, teachers, parents and community members love to hang out. I want it to be a place where kids own their own learning and find that they are dying to learn about. These posts are the posts that are helping me think about how that will actually look when the library is up and running.


  1. Wow! This is so awesome and has really fired me up. It made my day. I'd seen some of this stuff, but not all of it and not all in one place. Sweet! Thank you so much. I'll be sharing this with everyone! You so rock.

    (One thing: could you double check the links? Some weren't working for me).

  2. I love the thoughtfulness and passion that you are bringing to your library (and this blog). Your eyes are open to possibilities and now you need to find out what works for you and your library, right?
    Good luck

  3. Anonymous10:40 AM

    This post is getting me geared up for the school year. You mention a lot of points worth pondering before '09-'10 gets underway. I'm in the mood to update my school library goals - thanks.

  4. Frankie,
    Let's get together sometime; I'm right next door in Hilliard and we are currently on these same ideas. Have you looked at David Loertscher's new book "Learning Commons", lots of things to think about.

  5. I love when you make your thinking and learning public. So important to see all the steps of learning that you've gone through. Important lesson in here for all of us, not just librarians. Thanks!

  6. I love all your thinking in one place. So very smart. It's exiting.


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