Educators are always looking for ways to improve academic success. They study the latest trends in education, attend professional development conferences, and try to use more collaborative learning groups. A key place in your school for students to expand on their knowledge in the library. Once upon a time, the library was a quiet zone in the school, a place where you went to research a paper or to read quietly under the guidance of a little old lady who shushed you at every opportunity. Times have changed, and while the library still provides those things, it can be so much more.
One of the major things students like to do in the school library is work with technology. This can be anything from a laptop to a tablet. In order for that to happen, your library needs to become more technology friendly. That means providing more sockets and outlets in the walls for devices to be plugged into or getting tables designed for tech use that already have the necessary plugs built into them. This is also an excellent time to update any classroom storage needs by adding in additional cabinets or shelving to house technology devices.
When you think of a library, the word quiet probably pops into your head, but occasionally there may be necessary student discussions going on that disrupts the learning environment. One way to cut back on the noise is to purchase chairs or benches that are padded. Not only does this help reduce sound levels, but it also provides comfort to the student. Besides traditional tables and chairs, bean bags and oversized pillows have become mainstays in libraries and are a great way of catering to the way different students learn.
Along those lines, when you choose tables and chairs, don’t forget to consider their colour. Colour affects student learning, causing them to be calm or excited. This helps with learner engagement. Before making colour decisions, think about what kind of environment you want the students to come into. How do you want them to feel while in the room?
As mentioned before, it used to be the library was a quiet zone only. Many librarians are breaking away from that stereotype and setting up their library so that different sections of it are for different activities. Technology and reading zones are common, but creating specialized areas for activities helps the library become a better place for education. If students are in primary school, an area for hand puppets to act out favourite library stories or a board game area focusing on language arts skills would be appropriate. For older students, places where students can discuss ideas or form “think tanks” would be ideal. When creating these areas or zones, don’t forget about students with accessibility issues. Be sure all students are able to move safely in the space.
School libraries no longer have to be solely quiet zones. With just a few simple changes, you can turn the space into a relaxing environment that facilitates learning and meets all students’ needs.
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