Conferences, School Libraries

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 1)

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight days.  Get ready!


I haven’t attended AISL in 16 years, since their 2001 Library Space Odyssey for a variety of reasons (schedule conflicted with school research season, sessions didn’t really apply, etc.) but 2017 in New Orleans during Spring Break (link goes to the conference guide and many speaker handouts/presentations)?  Ok, that works!

Keynote: Doug Johnson (handouts)

Doug spoke about facilities and changes, a topic near and dear to me.  After all, last summer and this we made/are making minor changes to the library and bigger things are in store.  He started with a video of the Songtext song. And then posed the following question: what does my library offer that gets patrons out of their robes/recliner? In other words, in an era when information and books can be obtained by simply looking at a screen, why go to the library?  why get dressed and go out, rather than Google?  What if instead of having a circ desk, we had a genius bar (at Milton, that would mean bringing IT and ATS into our space, at our desk – not a bad idea at all!).  Learning corners might allow tutors to work with students better.  In other words: make the space a one-stop shop with zones.

We’ve been talking a lot about the library as “third space”, where social learning takes place in space that is comfortable and relaxed.  When students are asked what they want, they want casual groupings, zones (quiet, social, etc.) and tables vs. chairs/carrels.  But for so many, the layout makes things difficult to effectively zone.  So what if we “zoned” by time?  During the academic day, silent or very quiet, then noisier after hours? What if we allowed students to move tables and chairs around, to create their own groupings?  It’s critical to remember that one style does not fit all, physically or culturally.   (aside: NCSU’s Hunt library redesign offers many different spaces and furnishings for students to chose from)

He also reminded us that rules should be friendly, more Do than Don’t.  Example?  DO use your cell to read, work on an assignment, play a game, etc. DON’T use your cell to have a conversation.

So, what’s stopping us?  What more?  Here’s a partial list to think about:

  • more adults in a space are better (aka passive supervision)
  • rebrand as an “one space” area
  • computer lab spaces are now obsolete thanks to 1:1 programs but we still need high-end spaces for editing, podcasting, etc.
  • consider a “make it” space not just a “maker” space (not all high-tech – knitting, cards, origami, etc.)
  • consider a presentation space, where students can practice their skills before presenting to a class

Having said all that, we are still a teaching space.  Perhaps provide tech tools for teachers to use and practice with before working with a class.

It’s critical to remember that the internet is not a librarian!  It doesn’t have the expertise, skills and knowledge we do, but students and teachers don’t always know that.  Solution?  Get rid of the Library Office (and Ft. Reference Desk) and be where the students are, at point of need.   It’s far less important to worry about things like DDC and overdues/fines, inventory, etc.  The focus must be on the kids.

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