In libraries, design does matter

Our library facilities are transforming into innovative spaces that serve a wide variety of instructional styles and learning opportunities.  We’re creating niches for designing, making, and inventing. We have large mobile instructional areas for students to work together in flexible groups, as well as comfortable spots for individual personal learning.  We’re designing spaces for forum-style presentations, spots for small focused group work, and high-tech digital playgrounds.  We believe that the physical nature of the facility impacts the kinds of innovative teaching and learning that happens within a library, and so we are working with all of our librarians to re-think how their spaces can be re-designed to promote creativity, collaboration, innovation, and personal learning.  

Historically, when we think of physical libraries, we tend to think of tall stacks of books and long rows of computers.  Our libraries have always been the centers for learning and discovery in our schools,  but as our library programs have evolved and grown to meet the changing needs of students, so have our physical library spaces.  

Our libraries are busy places.  It’s common for a librarian to be instructing both large and small groups, facilitating collaboration, providing professional development, and partnering with community agencies.  We may have one group of students researching in one area, while another group is using the green screen to produce a video in another.

Fortunately, we already have beautifully designed and well-maintained libraries in our schools.  Often, making dramatic changes is simply a matter of reconfiguring the library with an end goal in mind.  Where once a row of desktop devices dominated a space, now shelves can be shifted and tables re-oriented to create a variety of purposeful learning spaces.  By recovering faded and worn seating, we can add a bright, fresh contemporary look that changes the feel of the whole library.  When possible, we purchase furniture and fixtures that encourage innovative teaching and learning through functional design; for example, mobile tables that configure in multiple ways for collaborative grouping and seating that can easily be shifted around for different purposes.  Mobility and flexibility are primary considerations as we outfit libraries for the future.

We are lucky in Lincoln Public Schools to have library programs that are strongly supported by the school community, and it’s exciting to see our libraries evolve and transform as we embrace different approaches to teaching and learning.  If you haven’t been inside your school library lately, we encourage you to stop by and check it out.  We think you’ll be impressed by the different design features and purposeful planning that is impacting many kinds of learning happening in our library programs!

Published: December 29, 2016, Updated: December 29, 2016