By Lani Aquino
Images and memories of school libraries are often associated with stern glances cast toward crackling wrappers, the shushing of attempted conversations, and/or hushed voices partaking in abbreviated exchanges. The end of the era of the quiet library has been touted as one of the 25 trends in education for 2018 by eSchool Media’s Annual Trend Report: 25 Trends for 2018. Move over libraries of yesterday, and say hello to more modernized media centers that are embracing the future of learning.
Libraries are more than just centers filled with books. Although the books are an amazing component of any media center, the bound texts that line the shelves are only a single chapter in the story that modern media centers have to share. Students and teachers are entering libraries to engage in active learning opportunities that involve collaboration, exploration, and engaging conversations for promoting learning and deeper understandings of a variety of curricular concepts. These centers of learning come with resident experts to aid in the navigation of learning journeys that involve texts, technology, and a variety of other media elements.
Modern libraries often house makerspaces and/or their tools. The eureka moments associated with all things maker and tinkering aren’t going to play out in silence. Learning and building and constructing require noise and conversation and the ability to work through frustrations and challenges. Libraries are the resource centers that can offer the room to let these creations come to life. One library in Pennsylvania is intertwining makerspaces and stories to create engaging literary projects.
HackerSpaces are also finding their homes in many libraries. These are the areas where the tools of technology are housed and available for exploration. HackerSpaces may be filled with 3D printers, gaming software and hardware, filming equipment, and more. Students are able to dive into technology with a more hands-on approach to the tools and practices associated with all things tech when these modernized spaces are accessible. As a move toward the usage of personal and portable devices becomes more prevalent, the need for spaces to house the larger tools of tech becomes necessary.
Flexible seating and arrangements are also becoming the norm for media centers. The ability to adapt the space to a variety of needs and purposes has likely been coupled with a noticeable shift in the placement of the shelves that allows for larger open spaces. Desks, tables, and chairs are likely to be interspersed with more comfortable furnishing that can easily be transformed and manipulated for a variety of purposes. As students and teachers move about the space, an assortment of configurations can occur to support learning.
Not to say that every corner of today’s libraries will have a discernible soundtrack, but libraries are moving away from being touted as centers of silence. There is still a respect when it comes to noise levels in any learning space, and expectations for using these community spaces need to be set. There may even be some designated quiet zones or times, but these are becoming the exception rather than the norm. Quiet spaces are more likely to be found in smaller areas rather than overtaking some of the largest spaces that schools have to offer for active learning with a heavy emphasis on collaboration.
Shushing and stern glances in libraries are starting to become tales for the history books. The shift in pedagogy and learning toward a more active approach is coupled with a shift in the way learning environments are viewed and utilized. The transition to louder libraries deserves a respectfully amplified round of applause!
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