|Joy Piedmont moderating a Q&A with Sarah Couri and Susan Harris|
It was wonderful to see so many faces, both old and new, at our winter meeting last week. If you weren't able to make it, here is a brief recap of the two wonderful breakout sessions you missed.
Tali Kaplan from Ethical Culture Fieldston School discussed how her lower school library "ditched Dewey" in favor of a subject-based organization system. In challenging the historical way of organizing the library, the question was raised of whether or not this is the best way to organize books for kids who are natural browsers. The new system at Ethical Culture organizes books based on subject which has led to more success of kids independently finding books. One student even commented "Oh, you actually organized the library!" If you are thinking of making this switch, some challenges you should consider include working with book jobbers used to Dewy, cataloging issues, and also the transition into middle school if that is a place where students will be expected to know and use Dewey. Overall, Tali is satisfied with this new child-centered approach!
Susan Harris from Harvey School and Sarah Couri from Grace Church School each presented on various stages of setting up a Learning Commons. While Harvey School is still in the discussion stage, Sarah inherited her brand new space at the beginning of this school year.
At Harvey School, because they are not looking into new construction, Susan is really looking at adapting the space they have and creating unique areas for each type of activity. For example, putting quiet study into individual study carrels and creating a more relaxed space for group socialization generates an appropriate setting for each group. Some challenges they have foreseen include power supply, timing, space, and money.
The library at Grace Church School was designed as an academic shared work space which allows for cross-department collaboration. Although different areas are designated for group work, structured classes, and individual study, one challenge that Sarah has been working around is some of the fixed furniture. In order to be truly flexible, movable furniture would be ideal. The learning lab and play area complete with crafting supplies speak to the creative student-centered approach at the heart of the Learning Commons.
Afterword, we had a lively Q&A moderated by HVLA Treasurer Joy Piedmont. When asked about what is happening to the traditional library, Sarah mentions that not everybody learns from just reading, so the library needs to support all learning styles. The point was also brought up that Learning Commons has become a buzzword and many school administrators throw it around without fully understanding its meaning. Librarians often need to help define buzzwords and adapt concepts like the Learning Commons into their own school cultures and spaces. The lively discussion was broken up when we ran out of time and had to continue our conversation over food and drinks at PJ Clarks!
Thank you to our wonderful presenters and hosts at Ethical Culture Fieldston School. Hopefully we will see everyone at the spring meeting!