Karah's #hyperlinkedlibrary Blog

Director’s Brief: Starting a School Library Makerspace

Posted in Uncategorized by on April 30, 2019

My brief outlines a plan to create a makerspace in the Bloomfield High School Library based upon the school’s mission and existing curricular goals and includes the philosophy, definitions, rationale, and resources associated with the project. I do not take credit for this image; I was unable to find its creator.

If you are in the business of education, the likelihood you’ve seen Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” at least once is very good.  In the talk, Robinson, a leader in global projects on creative and cultural education, makes the case that schools can and should nurture creativity rather than undermine it.  The talk has been viewed over 17 million times and is the most viewed TED talk ever. Robinson (2019) says of his work:

Human resources are like the earth’s natural resources. They are highly diverse and often buried deep beneath the surface. They need to be discovered, refined and applied. Education often promotes a narrow view of ability, as do many corporate organizations. As a result, many people are unaware of the variety of their talents and depth of their potential.  

In the years since the talk was given, sadly, not much has changed in education.  But libraries, facing a sort of existential crisis at about the same time Robinson’s talk was gaining attention, have seized an opportunity to grapple with this question.  They have analyzed their programming and services, and embraced a way to offer users an opportunity to find and use knowledge in new, creative, and meaningful ways in the form of the makerspace.

You can read my whole brief on starting a school library makerspace here:

“Encouraging Learning Everywhere”

Posted in Uncategorized by on April 23, 2019

I’ve done a lot of work I’m proud of since taking the position in my school library, like weeding the dated and dusty reference collection (replacing much of it with an eBook collection and moving the rest to nonfiction) and using the space to create New Arrivals shelving, which we previously did not have (new arrivals would sit on a prominently displayed cart for a while and then be put into general circulation). While this is good, necessary work, I’ve struggled much more with outreach and advocacy that encourages and supports “learning everywhere”.

The title of this post comes from what Michael says is what he thinks of as the most important work of the information professional at this time, and it is a concept that resonates deeply for me both as an educator and as someone who is passionate about learning herself.

As I read about the public librarian Leah Hamilton in Voices from the Hall, a publication that features innovative service in local government, I was thinking a lot about my own experience offering services in the school library.  Creating programming and experiences that are meaningful and useful to my community is perhaps my most important goal. I am constantly looking for ways in which to leverage connections to grow our reach and meet the needs of our users.  But networking and advocacy does not come naturally to me. I’ve done some necessary and deeply satisfying work sprucing up the library to make it more attractive, but, as Hamilton says in the piece, “‘Paint can cover up flaws within a building, but it can’t fix broken relationships.’”  I need to convince stakeholders of the library’s capacity to transform learning, and to do that I need to rebuild perceptions of the space; this can not be done alone. People are at the heart of good librarianship.

Reading about librarians like Hamilton inspires me because her work models what I can and should do for the users:  Get out there and make connections with the needs of my students as my guide.  “In 2018 alone, she’s leveraged over 100 partnerships with public, private, and non-profit sector agencies to acquire funding, equipment, and expertise to provide hands-on educational opportunities.”  I can’t get mired in worry about stepping on toes or being aggressive. What do my students and teachers need to be successful in their learning? What are the best ways of providing for those needs? I draw heavily on my 14 years in the classroom to answer that question, but maintaining existing relationships and continuing to forge new ones with my community is the key to getting the job done.

Interpret the library world in whatever way makes the most sense for the situation your community is in.  Libraries have much more freedom to leverage creative approaches than [classrooms]. You can create the solution that meets the need that you’re facing.

I often say that the difference between being in the classroom and being in the school library is that in the school library, I get to do fewer things better.  Hamilton says, “‘Interpret the library world in whatever way makes the most sense for the situation your community is in. Libraries have much more freedom to leverage creative approaches than school districts.  You can create the solution that meets the need that you’re facing.’” If I swap out “school districts” for “classrooms” in that quote, I’ve got an idea worth reminding myself daily as I do this joyful work.

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