Friday, June 13, 2014

Rethinking Our Library Space

I originally wrote this as a guest column for the Berwyn Life. Since they didn't publish it in its entirety, I'm posting it here and attaching the published piece.

School libraries became a mainstream norm in the 1950’s and 60’s as public schools received increased funding from both public and private donors to better prepare students in science and math. They were conceived and have evolved to be places where students can access print resources as well as technology. In past years, students may have learned how to use a card catalog to find information. Just as in public libraries, those days are gone.

Students in South Berwyn District 100 have no need to use a school library as a center for learning how to research. Every classroom is a learning laboratory with wireless devices that allow endless access to knowledge, collaboration across the globe, and the ability to create. Because not every book is available digitally, we have tens of thousands of books located throughout our schools including our school libraries. As an Apple Distinguished Program, our students are not bound to a text book or encyclopedia printed years earlier. Nor are the students confined by their geographical location to where they may learn.
Our students are no longer dependent upon the expertise or guidance of any one individual or source for learning. Just like their teachers, our students are developing their own personal learning networks.

Our enrollment in District 100 continues to grow. The citizens of the community chose not to provide funding to add classrooms to our crowded schools. Repurposing our current library space is one way that we are adding classroom space. Pershing School’s former library will become a multi-age kindergarten/1st grade classroom. Our books will move to the large, well-lit, seldom used stage in our gym. Students will be able to check out books as in past years. Additionally, we are planning to provide a time after school that parents may check out books with their students. We fully support the notion that reading is foundational to becoming a participatory citizen and living a full life.

While our spaces for learning will continue to evolve in response to our finances and population, our staff is committed to providing the very best educational opportunities despite meager resources. We are fortunate that we are not limited by the boundaries of a particular space, materials, or resources that are provided. Because of a committed staff and Board of Education, we are able to conceive of ways to reach our vision of being a top 25% district, despite the current financial climate of our community and state. 
Link to the Berwyn Life post: