A little background about where I’m from… Plymouth is centrally located between the Lakes Region and the White Mountains about 2 hours North of Boston.
Our school is a regional high school with about 800 students coming from 7 different, very rural districts with a wide range of economic levels.
When we redesigned our library we asked 1 question over and over again:What world will our students be living in and what skills will they need to succeed when they leave our school?
We watched our users- to see what they needed while they are in the library.
How do they want to use the space?
What tools are they looking for?
What tools are they talking about? This year it has been all about ebook readers, netbooks, and smartphones.
What kinds of resources didn’t we have that our users didn’t want to buy on their own?
What kinds of resources didn’t we have that our users really needed? Textbooks/trips to student lockers.
We saw that our students needed tools to create and access their own content. So we purchased digital cameras, video cameras, usb drives, digital voice recorders, iPods, media card readers, webcams, netbooks, and kindles.
Having said that: Misconceptions: Tech-Centered.Our goal was never about the technology. We are user-centered, not technology centered.Cushing Academy.When we improved our library we heavily weeded our existing/unused/out of date collection and actually added thousands of print materials. (also through grants)
Redesigned our website, too:We kept track of repetitive questions and noted our users frustrations. We created a website to help our users locate information on their own.We noticed that users are unable to tell you specifically how to redesign your website but if you watch them and listen to them, their needs and especially their complaints will guide you in the right direction.
We wanted to keep the atmosphere of the site, as well as the library, to be happy and fun. Something that the students would come back and look at each day.
To better prepare our users for the future we provided tools to encourage them to be autonomous learners.We created a libguides page for Digital Portfolios… one of our most frequently asked questions, so they could help themselves to information.
We also created a libguides for Citing Sources so students can use this on their own.
The library was originally designed for preservation & protection of resources. That is a large part of what the library legacy has always been. Preserving, Archiving, Protecting collections.We not only had physical barriers, but they created psychological & emotional barriers, too. The protectiveness that we felt towards our print collection naturally extended to other resources, too (including scissors and glue sticks).
When we rearranged our library we tried to get rid of the “fortress” as the main desk. We wanted our library to be welcoming. We wanted the staff to be approachable.We purchased mobile furniture as we added anything new to the library. No more built in desks and tables. We want to be flexible ready for our future, ready for change.
Remove virtual barriers, too! Redesigning our website was a big part. One thing that increased use was posting our passwords and giving out the password key to our users.Create a key to your passwords and password protect it- use a free tool (like a pw protected wiki) if you can’t do it on your website.
We now trust our users withSupplies…
Trust them with resources.
We try to expose students to a wide variety of equipment because using these tools confidently is an important part of succeeding in work, school, and life now.
Trust users in virtual spaces, too.All of the students at our school have permission to update our wiki pages.
We had a dramatic change in the use of the library. When you have numbers like these, share them.
Share your successes with the community by publicizing. We send our newsletter home with quarterly report cards. We include news & events but mostly we talk about what resources are available to our students and how they are using them.
We also share more specific information and data with our financial stakeholders.
We give a monthly report to our administration, superintendent, and the school board.We show activities that happened in the library, additions to our collection, how the students are using the resources (through pictures & text) and collections through…
And finally collaboration data. We use the Level of Collaboration Rubric developed by Susan Ballard and the Londonderry (NH) High School LMC.The more we shared with our community and the financial stakeholders, the more support we received from them. It’s a self-perpetuating circle.
We love to have visitors!JoAnnGuilmet and Elaine Allard were such an inspiration for us in our redesign.
Learning Commons - Plymouth Regional HS (NH)
Pam Harland, Librarian<br />Plymouth Regional High School Library<br />Plymouth, New Hampshire<br />