Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Innovative Library Spaces

Last Thursday, the HVLA librarians gathered at Collegiate for our spring meeting and heard from a wonderful panel on "Innovative Uses of Library Spaces."  Thank you to our panelists,  Karen Grenke (Williamsburg Northside School), Annah Jones (Marymount School), Karyn Silverman (Elizabeth Irwin High School), LaShawn Ross (Riverdale) and moderator, Kerry Roeder (Professional Children's School.) While all of our panelists used different strategies based on their own school culture, each demonstrated innovation in their own way.

Karen Grenke, our sole lower school panelist, spoke about utilizing the art studio next door as a collaborative partner. When deciding how to decorate the front windows into the library, she elected to ask the kids.  Giving the kids ownership over the space resulted in great ideas and a fantastic display.  Karen has moved spaces before and is looking for innovative ideas since she will be again moving into a new library space.

Annah talked about adding faculty resources to her library space in order to bridge the gap of support services the kids need. With a learning specialist in the library and spaces for reading, writing, or math labs, kids have their learning teams working together in the same space. There is a Maker Lab across from the library, and Annah talked about the importance of being nearby but having separate spaces because of all the equipment, noise, etc.

Karen Silverman is constantly questioning how to be innovative within the space given to her, which is considerably smaller than many other HVLA libraries.  Exciting tools they have added to their library include board games, tea service, knitting baskets, a 3-D printer, legos, coloring books, sudokus, and brain teasers. The entryway and main space of her library is purposefully set into collaborative tables with no screens and technology driven work occurs toward the edges of the library. Karen also uses the interactive bulletin board outside the library to connect with patrons that may never set foot inside the space.

When LaShawn came into her library, she saw room for improvement and decided to speak with her Head of School about it. Together they looked at the space with fresh eyes and the help of a set of students from Pratt Institute.  Ultimately, it was decided to give the kids more ownership over the space.  Resources like a writing center and language center were also added to give students additional support.

Our moderator Kerry Roeder also spoke about keeping maker kits behind the desk at her library that kids could check out. When kids are getting antsy and need a project, she comes over and invites them to make a banana piano.

Overall, it was a stimulating conversation with many ideas shared and questions asked. If you had an additional takeaway from the meeting, please share in the comments what resonated with you.

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