Learning in libraries comes in a variety of forms as Dr. Stephens states. It can be “both externally to our publics and internally for ourselves.”
Two main points that he brings up are:
“Libraries create and facilitate connections.”
“The heart of libraries is supporting learning and our users’ curiosity through every means possible.”
Libraries learn from people who have different learning styles to diversify their offerings to help as many users as they can to further their curiosity no matter the means. Facilitating that connection and that deep desire to learn and enrich is what we try to do every day as we work on new programming content and useful services to enrich the users’ experience with the library.
But to understand, we need to go back to the beginning.
Learning in a Warehouse:
It used to be that we did a lot of our learning sort of in the warehouse. Libraries as warehouse of books, library as a place we would come find the book we needed, maybe read it there, or take it home, maybe read what we needed and then put it down on the table and get up and leave.
It was a very solitary activity . It was a very private activity that we might do our learning that way.
To this, I agreed. I mostly went by myself to do private studies when I was younger. I would sit down in a dark and often small corner to read and do my homework. I enjoyed the quiet and found that I think I now understand why it was
Dr. Stephens believes now that, “learning takes place in and around libraries in a number of ways.And one of those is formal, meaning in the classroom.”
Whatever that classroom looks like, wherever that classrooms happens to be. That is the formal sort of way of learning with a teacher, a professor, an educator taking people through a lecture or a demonstration to teach them something in a formal capacity.
Informal happens in our libraries, wherever somebody learns something new that might be across the campus. It might be across the community. It might be at the cafe. It might be anywhere where somebody has a question and somebody provides an answer.
And then there’s unexpected.
Two programs were showcased here.
- Books and Butchers Program – a program put on at Johnson County Library, Kansas.
- Howard County Library System – They have, at one of their branches, a DIY circulating collection of (look at all this stuff) that you would need to do some building project, a ladder, a wheelbarrow, all kinds of stuff. Some of this stuff I don’t even know what it is.
Dr. Stephens commented, “the libraries worked to identify something that didn’t appeal to a broad range of people, men and women, young people out there too, that brought them together to learn about something they might not know about.”
Bringing programming such as Books and Butchers or having a DIY building collection can reach the interests of the under-serviced. It shows that libraries are thinking of out of the box solutions that can help bring in patrons from all sorts of interests, information needs, and learning styles. We should work to bring programming that isn’t just a ‘wow factor’ but rather one that speaks to the interests of a diverse and broad range of people, to get them to participate, to communicate.
Maybe, you’re reading the book or you’re watching the show or movie, and something strikes you, “oh I want to know more about that.”
I find that I do this often when a term I don’t know comes up and I grab my phone and open up a new tab in Google. It’s not just once but rather I find myself absorbed in finding other new terms. It’s like entering a new world, a new world of discovery no matter how small it might seem. I love learning little factoids and I often find happiness from discovering new information on old events whether it’s just through a Google search or through an infographic-based YouTube channel. I love just learning back and relaxing and sifting through this information.
“It’s just following that curiosity where it leads you. That is a form of learning as well.” – Dr. Stephens
We hear the terms ‘information lteracy’ or ‘digital literacy’ being used commonly as descriptors to supplement new classes and programs.
Dr. Stephens stated, “It should not be a big distinction between technology literacy and all the other literacies expected of us to be humans. Think about the life literacies that we might be teaching.”
That made me stop and think that was there really a difference between the two terms? The end result of instructing these two topics is really to enrich the life and the skillset of the patrons.
An example brought up by Dr. Stephens was the adulting 101 class. He pointed out one portion of that class was devoted to sewing. Patrons can have the choice of going onto YouTube or attending the Adulting 101 program held at a home library. It made me think that we have these choices between going out into the world to attend a class and the content being a necessity to daily function or we could have the choice to stay back, within the comforts of our homes, and grab a smart phone and any other mobile device, click on YouTube (via the app or just typing in the web address on a search engine of our choice), and receive thousands of results based on a keyword or topic relating to a skill we wish to learn, such as Adulting 101 life skills.
It really makes one think, coming to this profound realization, that we really are coming into a time of a new generation of learners. We just have so many choices available now, with several formats, mediums, and platforms from which different learners can choose from that suits their learning styles best.
The connection between the Lecture and the Reading
We learned about the history of learning, from the early days of the warehouse to the various forms it can take. Still, there is a standard description for each format. But, now as we move into the 21st century, the infrastructure transforms, moving more fluidly from a formalized style to more informal. Vangelova (2014) in their article, What does the next-generation school library look like, helps answer this question.
The librarian at Monticello High School Library, Joan Ackroyd reiterates this point by stating, “people no longer have to come to a library to get information,” she says, “so the library has to get people coming in for different reasons. Students need somewhere to socialize, create things and collaborate.” (Vangelova, 2014).
Thus she and co-librarian, Dave Glover, converted an old storage room into a new technology lab. The new level of interest from the students towards the technology lab led to a full scale library renovation supervised by an experienced library consultant. The renovation primarily drew inspiration from the libraries that served younger patrons.
Joan Ackroyd stated that the new library offers “ open, flexible scheduling, and let students in even when other classes are there.” They also have “banked computers that students can use independently, and a circulation desk in a more central area. It’s a matter of attitude, to make students feel welcome any time” (Vangelova, 2014).
It had glass walls that offer sound buffering capabilities but allow full transparency so that students can see what’s going on. There were reading lounge areas with comfortable seating, fully mobile tables and chairs,
Other offerings included:
2 music studios
a HackerSpace with high-tech equipment:
microscope, 3D printer, gaming hardware and software, and a green screen for filming)
a Maker Space with a 3D printer, which serves as a “hands-on” craft room.
The Monticello High School Library went from “managing students’ time to giving them ownership.”
Students came to learn the responsibility that comes with this freedom,
which became ingrained within the school culture.
Fellow librarian, Ida Mae Craddock stated, “You learn behaviors from the people around you.”
The students trained each other to know and understand things through social learning.
This new center not only gave students a chance to become independent and lead,
it also created a new sense of trust between the library staff and the students coming to use the services and new technology.
It makes me hopeful that libraries can transform the user experience. This high school library took note of their audience and worked to provide the tools and services necessary to create a beneficial library experience for the students. By doing so, libraries can create new opportunities for their patrons to learn and grow.
We see that libraries are beginning to take into account the unconventional – that is to offer unique programs and services to diversify and enrich the library experience for new and old patrons. Libraries have the opportunity to move beyond the traditional image, and re-examine the new roles that they can take in the future. People aren’t just resourcing their information from traditional sources of information anymore. With the tap of a button on a screen, they’re whisked away to new information in minutes, or rather seconds.
Module 11 Web Lecture on Infinite Learning: Learning Everywhere
Vangelova, L. (2014). What does the next-generation school library look like? KQ Ed. Retrieved from