On Being in Libraries

Lepine, Sierra


Miller, K. (2018). “On Being in Libraries.” Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/8/on-being-in-libraries

Fascinating article talking about conducting renovation and rebuilding of physical library space with student inquiry in mind. Written by academic librarian at the University of Miami, discussing a recent project involving University library/librarians, University faculty, students, and educational community members in a conversation about modern student needs and desires regarding both physical library space and intellectual/research processes. Ultimately came up with plans for a Learning Commons area in the library, newly built and designed to cater specifically to 21st century students needs in regards to individualized learning, creative inquiry, learning by doing, community-based knowledge building, etc.


Not only did I appreciate the discussion about how design thinking and inquiry can be used in terms of lesson planning and teaching, but also in terms of how to actually design a physical space! I also liked that article ended with an acknowledgement that now students request more quiet space in library, and a rueful acceptance that, while community learning is in vogue, it is still library’s responsibility to provide quiet and contemplative learning spaces for students, too!

Next Generation Learning Space

Wilson, G. & Randall, M. (2012). The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: A pilot study, Research in Learning Technology, 20:2, 14431. DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.14431

This was a pilot study of the Pod Room, which is a next generation learning space. The research focused on the use of the space by academic staff and students. The researcher conducted surveys, observed classes and closely following the observations was an interview with each teacher.  The findings from this research indicated that there are learning benefits achieved by the use of a space like the Pod room.

Taking Your First Job: Where the Rubber Meets the Road and Starting Off: Where Not to Begin

Brandt, Alisa

Akers, A. (2016, July 14). Taking your First job: Where the rubber meets the
    road [Blog post]. Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:

Akers, A. (2016, August 10). Starting off: Where not to begin [Blog post].
    Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website: http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/


Anne Akers wrote these two blog posts about a month apart this summer and they both offer excellent advice to library students as they land their first school library jobs.
When asked by a former student after being hired for a perfect school library job, Akers is asked where to start? Entering a new library can be overwhelming and full of many projects from weeding to hanging up posters. Aker suggests not making any dramatic changes right away until you have the lay of the land. She recommends starting with small, easily accomplished tasks that give a sense of accomplishment. She also suggests setting the tone and vision of the library by posting the mission statement at the Standards for 21st Century Learners in prominent places in the library. All of her suggestions start with people and relationships.
In her follow up blog post, Aker explains further why she said to NOT start with the collection but instead to prioritize relationships. She says that to start those critical early days establishing yourself by focusing on the collection reinforces a certain stereotype (guardians of books) and does not build relationships. Schools need librarians who will be teachers and part of what takes place in the classrooms.

Evaluation: These two posts are so important for establishing how teacher librarians are perceived at what we can all do to change the stereotypes of libraries and librarians of yore. It means having a vision and confidently displaying it through the library environment and the actions of the librarian. I believe this is useful for librarians starting their first job and seasoned librarians who have been working in the same school for decades. Visions should adapt and while it takes a while to undo old visions, it is nevertheless an important task to take.

Physical Space + Thinking = Cultures of Learning

Brandt, Alisa

Lange, J. (2016, August 9). Physical space + learning = cultures of learning
    [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas website: http://aislnews.org/



This is a very short blog post about how physical spaces in a school (and library) should reflect the kind of learning activity that takes place there. Lange was inspired to write this post after attending a conference in which author Ron Ritchhart presented a session based off of his book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Richhart suggests that the activity in a classroom “shifts” from one in which the teacher presents material to the class to one where students and adults can work collaboratively. Richhart suggests that there are three kinds of learning spaces: “caves” (for individuals); “watering holes” (small groups); and “campfires” (large groups led by a “storyteller”).
The article continues with some suggestions for creating these spaces. Lange recommends displaying student work and surfaces covered in whiteboard paint so students can demonstrate their thinking. She also shares that she created a kind of Harry Potter “house sorting” book display for students to “sort” their summer reading into one of the three houses from the book. This demonstrates peer thinking in an open and shared space. And finally Lange offers another suggestion from Richhart to go on a “ghost walk” through other educators’ classrooms to get a sense of the kind of activities and what types of learning happens there and how that can be enhanced by the library.

Evaluation: I am very interested in reading Mr. Richhart’s book after reading Lange’s post but I have to say that I see some underwhelming examples of how to use the author’s suggestions. I would be curious to know more about Richhart’s thinking about physical spaces and how they create cultures of learning. Certainly displaying student work gives an example of a particular learning culture and it becomes a way to echo and reinforce those cultures. But I would also like to learn how to create those spaces in my library. We have already seen that our group study rooms from individuals or small groups works well in addition to our open group study areas. We also have two classrooms for a “campfire” space. But I think it would be great to be able to learn how to help individuals more.

Transformation of traditional libraries

Shibrie Wilson


Holland, B. (2015, February 14). 21st-Century Libraries: the learning commons. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-libraries-learning-commons-beth-holland

Summary: Since 2600 BCE libraries have existed for purpose of archiving recorded knowledge. Due to technology and accessibility in many locations libraries are reinventing themselves sense materials are no longer confined to print. Institutions are creating environment in which text materials are obsolete and therefore encouraging libraries to revamp spaces creating and environment for “collaboration and knowledge con-construction.” Due to digital technology students no longer need access to library to retrieve resources. Libraries are becoming learning commons in which encourages participatory learning and provides variety of sources. Within article are different accounts of school librarians successfully initiating transformation in school libraries.  A school located in Chicago has transformed library into a flexible space with moveable furniture, break out rooms, and additional resources created to encourage collaboration and sharing. Creating a space without barriers was the concept of a high school librarian in Austin, Texas deemed as “library hub.” Opposed to stereotypical environment of silence and independent study this library discourages  such and encourages collaboration and active learning. Providing culminating activities create learning hubs, and transparent facilities are way in which libraries can supplant the traditional. Creating an environment in which students can create their own environment. Innovative transformation of libraries will inspire students. 

Review: Inspiring article for all librarians and specifically for those who recent library graduates and those in library studies for programs. This a great article in which exposes different aspects of how libraries are and will continue to be relevant in evolving world of technology. One contribution in which I noticed is that librarians in article were benefactors of change and were not afraid to disassociate themselves from the norm.