The Hyperlinked School Library: The Revolutionary Space Our Children Deserve

I work in public education and I am in and out of school libraries in middle and high schools throughout the district. I have been thinking quite a bit recently, as a result of this course, about the ways that school libraries serve as hubs in their schools of untethered spaces where students can be free of the strict content boundaries of the classroom. For example, the school library can be a space where students are freer to explore an individual interest or a multi-disciplinary approach to a topic they are curious about. The school library also serves as a place where content area classes can have a more differentiated and less homogeneous approach to learning. I’ve seen classes working on a group project, individual pursuits, and research-lessons with librarians. I have also seen libraries that are underutilized and not at all the hubs of activity that I describe above. The hyperlinked library course and the module on the hyperlinked school library have given me food for thought about the potential of the school library and how there can and should be a rethink of the school library similar to the library 2.0 in the general library system.

The first step in a rethink and an embrace of change in the school library is for the community as a whole to accept that the library needs to serve users and meet the user’s research needs and desire. The school librarian cannot exclusively push her ideal of the school library at the expense of meeting user needs. Parents need to accept, as stated by Richardson in his 16 Modern Realities article, that students are multi-modal, were born into a digital landscape, and they may not gravitate exclusively to books.

The Loertscher article on flipping the script provides a necessary kick in the pants to the librarian who may think the status quo is all that is needed to best serve students. I appreciate the framing of the school library 2.0 as a “revolution” and I think the author is correct in her presumption of what the library can be (a hub of learning for young people) but this can only come if the librarian removes her notions of the traditional library as her ideal. There is an excellent example of a young adult library wing, albeit not in a school library setting, that I think highlights the points Loertscher is making about flipping the script.

I encourage readers to check out the San Francisco Public Library wing called “The Mix” which is created for and by young adults. The Mix is described as “The Mix at SFPL is an innovative, youth-designed, 21st-century teen learning space”. Among other resources, the Mix offers a DJ studio, a radio mix lab, and a wide range of devices for young people to engage with content. Not to mention the furniture which is incredibly teen-friendly. There are aspects of the Mix that remind of the library we learned about in the Module 4 lecture, the Rok.

The Mix is a great example of the kind of “learning revolution” that Robinson refers to when describing what is necessary for students to become and sustain a lifetime of learning. The library can and should be such a space that sparks a revolution in the minds of young people and it is disheartening when such spaces languish and go underused because they are less than welcome or they aren’t space that allows students to engage with a multimedia approach to their curiosity and learning.

References

Maker Space Drop-in. (1970, January 01). Retrieved from https://themixatsfpl.org/events/maker-space-drop-12

Richardson, W. (2016, May 14). 16 Modern Realities Schools (and Parents) Need to Accept. Now. Retrieved from https://medium.com/modern-learning/16-modern-realities-schools-and-parents-need-to-accept-now-64b98710e4e9#.h2ihabdc5

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Bring on the learning revolution! Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution

Travis Jonker on October 7, 2017, Brigid Alverson on October 7, 2017, Roxanne Hsu Feldman on October 7, 2017, Lori Henderson on October 7, 2017, Robin Willis on October 6, 2017, Sarah Couri on October 6, 2017, . . . Roger Sutton on October 5, 2017. (2015, January 12). Flip This Library: School Libraries Need a Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2008/11/technology/flip-this-library-school-libraries-need-a-revolution/

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