On Monday, October 26th, a group of DPS109 building administrators and teacher librarians from all six of our buildings attended an afternoon field trip to Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka District 36 and then to Central School in Wilmette District 39. The purpose of our trip was to explore and inquire about non-traditional library spaces.
We began our trip at Hubbard Woods School, led by Maureen Miller, the Director of Technology in Winnetka. Maureen provided background about the Resource Center of Hubbard Woods, which was completed transformed over the summer by Todd Burleson, the Resource Center Director.
The space was truly incredible. Upon entering the space, whiteboards line the walls to encourage students to share their thinking and ideas with others. A lego wall also welcomes students to the Resource Center, suggesting that this is a place to create. Students have opportunities to engage in design thinking experiences in the Resource Center, where they ultimately prototype their ideas by building, making and creating a model that solves some kind of problem. Todd has traditional library sessions with students on Mondays, but the rest of the week is devoted to project-based learning. Students have access to iPads, robots, building tools, a green screen studio, and more! Our group was blown away by Todd’s innovative approach to library. He clearly is a leader in his field and has reimagined what a library can and should be. While we loved much of what Todd does in his library space, this would be difficult for any library to do without having Todd leading the charge. Todd is as handy with a saw as he is with the Linux Operating System! Still, our eyes were opened to the potential of a newly designed space where kids come to learn through creation. Learn more about this unique library space by clicking here.
After leaving Hubbard Woods, we drove about ten minutes south to the Central School Learning Commons in Wilmette, where Barb Unger, the Library Information Specialist, and Lauren Kolod, Technology Teacher, gave our team a tour of their newly renovated space. Several classrooms were converted into different spaces that could be used for various purposes in the Learning Commons, so multiple classrooms of students could easily visit the LC without it ever feeling crowded. In addition to the traditional library space with soft seating and books, the Learning Commons incorporates Makerspaces, Green Screen recording studio, a technology lab and several collaboration suites. Both Barb and Lauren were passionate about how the new design has reinvigorated their passion for what they do. Students still attend some classes in the Learning Commons on a fixed schedule, but teachers can easily bring students into different parts of the LC at other times during the day and tie the learning back to what students are working on in the classroom. Learn more about this exciting space by clicking here.
To summarize our visit, it was clear to us that the DPS109 library spaces need more hands-on experiences for all of our students and more flexibility in our schedule to allow for such experiences. Many of our elementary schools are exploring the possibility of adding a Smart lab into the library space to bring hands-on learning to our upper elementary students. Our librarians have already begun bringing aspects of makerspaces and project-based learning into the library so that students view the library as a place of curiosity, inquiry and student-driven learning.
Now that information is ubiquitous, a library is no longer the only means for book check-out and research. If we know this is true, then we must continue to ask ourselves: What else can we do in this space to bring relevance, meaning and purpose to the learning experiences of our students? We will continue investigating what kinds of opportunities could be brought into a library space to keep students engaged, inspired and empowered. We look forward to revolutionizing these spaces in the upcoming years to best prepare our students for their tomorrow.