Libraries offer services and facilities that belong to the community and within a school context, the library belongs to the learners. In our school library (known as the iCentre), we believe all members of the College community can be defined as learners, including administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents. Providing a learning space that supports learning in our community is a key goal of the iCentre and one space we felt was no longer meeting this goal was the “non-fiction” area. This area contained rows of non-fiction shelves and an adjacent teaching and learning area consisting of tables, chairs, some fixed computer stations, a teacher lectern, projector and screen. Observations of learner behaviour and borrowing data verified that many of the resources were not being used and learning in this area was mostly teacher-centred and assessment driven. The space was not meeting the iCentre’s goal of providing library, information and digital literacy services and programs that support the College’s pedagogical framework for 21st Century teaching and learning. The project to re-invent this space is underway and thinking on its design will be integral to developing a space that improves learning opportunities for our community.
When we undertake a project to design or re-design a learning space, it is imperative that our purpose is human-centred. This idea is repeated often in the course readings to date. Philippe Starke in his address on TEDtalks, Design and Destiny (2007), stresses that design is obliged to serve the community and this is reiterated by Kuratko, Goldsworthy, & Hornsby (2012) who assert the purpose of design is “to meet the needs of communities and make the world a better place”. A project that uses a design process that keeps the end-user, in our case, the learner, at the heart of decisions will be better placed to work within the three intersecting constraints of feasibility, viability and desirability identified by Brown (2009, p.3). Another perspective that is relevant to making our design decisions for learning spaces is to consider how each product serves the person it is intended for, “the over-arching truth lies in the fact that every physical product delivers a service; that every service is manifest through physical products” (Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph, 2013, p.3). In this course we are challenged to “think like a designer”, to seek the possible rather than the not possible and by doing so our project will be innovative and better serve the community. Tim Brown (2009). introduces a number of core capacities we require to begin thinking like a designer. I have taken these and summarized them in the following tag cloud:
The story so far:
Our project to re-design our non-fiction space for improved learning is underway but far from complete. The changes we have started with include:
Weeding the collection
In the recent past we have focused on developing our digital collection of information and believe we no longer need as large a collection of print material on the shelves. Because digital collections are available from anywhere at any time, the learner at the heart of this decision has more opportunity to access information than they do when they are restricted to the opening hours and loan restrictions of a library. We were also due to assess the collection and cull it of dated material as part of our regular practice and as such, the project was timely.
Clearing the space
We wanted more space for students to work, study, meet and collaborate. Essentially, we wanted to make the space learner-centred rather than resource centred. This would involve moving the books from rows of shelves to shelves placed along the walls. Unable to afford new shelves immediately, we moved the existing shelves against the wall to clear the space for learners. We have also placed a budget proposal to college leadership to acquire new, purpose built shelves that can be positioned along the walls but are also on castors and have flexibility for future changes. This change has already had an impact on learning. It is well used by students outside of class times to do school work or meet formally and informally in groups. The large boardroom table, in the centre of the space is a temporary edition while another building in the school is being renovated, and has been an interesting artefact to observe. We were initially reluctant to house this in the iCentre but it has proved most popular for meetings of staff and students. Senior students also like to use the table to study in groups or work on assignments. It has become so popular, that we have had to add it to our online booking form. We also removed most of the fixed computers in the space as students now have their own device there is less demand or need for these. The couple we have kept are needed for quick access if a student has forgotten their device or the battery has died and it is being re-charged or for occasional printing. Classes also use the space differently now. We have observed more collaboration as teachers encourage students to spread out. Overall, we believe the space better meets the needs of the 21st century learner because it is more flexible, student-centred and collaborative.
Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from: http://www.getabstract.com
Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf
Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph (2013). Design thinking research : Building innovation eco-systems. Available in CSU Library. http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1398639
Starke, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design