Because “Isolation is often the enemy of innovation” George Couros
The secondary library at the School In Question (SIQ) was refurbished in 2005, as part of the Building Education Revolution (BER). The library staff, teachers and students at the time were not consulted during the planning stage. The refurbishment occurred during the Christmas holidays and the changes presented in the new year as a fait accompli. No changes were made during the following 4 years.
Following meetings discussing the roles of teacher librarians, the three TLs decided to make some relatively small, inexpensive changes, based on four observations.
- The library was underused and library borrowing, particularly fiction, was at an all-time low.
- When students did use the library, when assignments were due, the noise levels were quite high.
- The library did not have a 24/7 online presence.
- The library was essentially a joint-use library for academic research and reading for leisure, and needed to cater to both.
Each point was addressed as follows:
- Increasing reading for pleasure-
Informal surveys were conducted asking boys what they would like the library to stock to increase borrowing, resulting in a Visual Literature section being created containing graphic novels, manga and picture books, as well as a Biography collection. A magazine rack was purchased and new high interest magazines purchased.
Observations identified that there was insufficient comfortable seating for readers. New comfortable reading chairs were purchased and placed in close proximity to the magazine rack and Visual Literature collection, with a sign “Parking for book lovers only”.
The TLs decided to actively market fiction, using constantly changing themed book displays, book talks, author visits and book trailers on a large TV screen.
- Noise levels-
- Students, particularly the seniors, valued the ability to collaborate and talk in the library, but also needed a space where they could work quietly and focus.
- The glassed in lab space was the easiest area to change to a quiet space, and the boys were reminded that it was now a quiet flow space, at the beginning of each break and signs were created.
- A dead space at the back of the library, previously unused because of lack of visibility, was designated a quiet space by adding chairs and dividers.
- Online presence-
- The TLs negotiated with the IT department to develop a library online presence, linked to every page on the school LMS.
- They ran information literacy classes across key learning areas (KLAs) and developed web pages, in collaboration with Heads of Department, to support the units of work.
- A Year 11 Information Processing Technologies class was invited to critique the web pages, surveying students and staff, as part of an assignment on webpage design.
The TLs were really pleased with the results of the changes made, particularly given the small costs involved, and have plans to build on them further.