Over the past several years, I’ve been privileged to speak at many state school library association conferences around the country. In addition to the opportunity to network with other passionate school librarians, I serve as a leading voice in the conversation about the evolution of our profession. My most popular presentation, “Examining the Sacred Cows of School Librarianship”, focuses on questioning commonly held perceptions and stereotypes relating to school libraries and librarians. When adults remember the libraries of their youth, silent spaces, stern librarians, and dusty books often come to mind. Today’s libraries are vibrant, active learning spaces that are constantly adapting to meet the needs of students.
“Libraries are always quiet.” The reality that we have come to understand is that learning is not always quiet. If libraries are places of learning, which they definitely are, then libraries are NOT always quiet. Visit Aldrich and Pollard Libraries on Episcopal’s campus and you are guaranteed to see active learning take place on any given day. Whether it’s a class playing a game of Breakout EDU, a Skype visit taking place, or students using MakerSpace resources to create, the learning experiences in the library can be exciting, engaging, and often noisy.
“Libraries are traditional spaces.” If you walk into either library on campus, you will see many traditional elements of a library space: a circulation desk, books, magazines, computers, printers, tables, and chairs. A closer look will reveal designated spaces for collaborative work, an abundance of technology resources including 3D printers and video equipment, and a robust digital resource space. Students no longer use their school libraries to merely consume information; libraries are now laboratories for creation and innovation. Libraries provide learners with a resource-filled space that is safe for exploring new ideas, collaborating with peers, and creating new content.
“The Dewey Decimal System.” Most adults remember learning about the Dewey Decimal System, but don’t actually remember how to use it. The use of the Dewey Decimal System is one of those non-negotiable for many more traditional librarians. Some libraries, however, are seeing the tide turn and are looking for ways to make their collections more accessible and easy to use. Living in the Google age, students are used to having access to the information they need instantaneously. Episcopal’s libraries are working to make the collections more accessible to students by introducing a genre-based organizational system. Our middle and upper school students quickly took to the new arrangement of fiction books in the collection this school year.
Although school libraries still focus on basic pillars such as fostering a love of reading, developing strong research skills, and providing quality resources to learners, libraries continue to evolve to reflect these ideals. Episcopal is proud to provide students with libraries that strive to be an innovative space that meets the changing needs of today’s learners, with librarians who are dedicated to connecting students and teachers with the resources they need.