Anne-Marie Tarter: Our Common Future (SLA Weekend Course 2013)


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Anne-Marie Tarter – Our Common Future: What the Learning Commons approach could mean for school libraries. Plenary session at 2013 SLA Weekend Course in Belfast

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  • In 1973 at the start of my career in librarianship 40 years ago…talk about the drastic changes to how info would be distributed and effect on libraries .electronic distribution, lack of need for buildings, new roles for librarians Slight Irony - am retired yet I am here to talk to you about the future of school libraries! A future that sounds a lot like what I was told in 1973….but the difference is that it really ISNT the future….its NOW It wasn’t comfortable to hear in 1973, and still isn’t now But you need to embrace the change, contribute to it, be part of the process
  • What Phil said in 2011 was also part of what was said to me in 1973 It is why I have always believed that a library was not a building or a collection but is a SERVICE We are defined by the IMPACT we have on our community. Its that simple. Our role is NOT based upon our past. In what we have done in the past. Its about NOW, its about the FUTURE and what we can offer to them. And that isn’t STAMPING OUT BOOKS!
  • These are images that I found simply googling the words ‘learning commons’ They don’t look like the libraries we have known and loved. .These are university learning commons. They are from Saudi Arabia, from Canada, from Australia. Models of them here in UK universities. Even the British Library. Technology has changed what people want when they look for information. People are working in new ways. I believe that this is NOT the death of libraries…but it is the single biggest change since the birth of the Carnegie public libraries A creative and exciting time!
  • Most of the ideas that I share with you have been influenced by these authors, and by looking a variety of school libraries over the years. They talk specifically about how a school library can become a Learning Commons…one that is suited to the information needs of schools in the 21s century. Not necessarily a brand new building....but rather some radical new thinking about how you use the space,,the resources and the staff you already have.
  • What is different from your libraries? A few subtle changes involving furniture and use… COLLABORATIVE space - encourages working together FLEXIBLE space - furniture moves so different things can happen, whenever. NOISY space - not designed exclusively around private study (although most provide some space for this too) Surprisingly the books are still there and not a computer in sight. But they are there…they are just hidden! But basically NOT so different from YOUR school library, right?
  • The Learning Commons is NOT about the building, or the collection or even the is more a STATE OF MIND . And it will require us to let go of a lot of what we thought libraries were about. So don’t panic, take a deep breath, and let’s explore
  • An analogy …Microsoft vs Apple … my stereotypes of both companies is somewhat out of date but the initial difference between the companies can help us to get a better idea of the Learning Commons idea. MS approach was organisation based, we KNOW what you need. Philosophy: If we build it, people will buy it. And all you need is the manual in the box. And we will provide the upgrades as and when we see fit. In contrast Apple provided help and support on demand.. They let the customer lead the way. they initiated online user groups to answer common problems. In fact they let the customer design the upgrades...think of APPS. Philosophy: If THEY help build it, they will use it. A Client Based Approach.
  • So which model is closest to our library? A little quiz...where is your it Apple or MS? Is it CLIENT BASED...or is it ORGANISATION based? Not a fixed side...but which side do you lean to? WOULD YOUR USERS AGREE? HAVE YOU ASKED THEM?
  • A commons in USA meant an open space in the middle of town where people could freely assemble to express ideas, discuss etc. (from English common area but with a more civic connotation) Yesterday I read about a 10 year old who was given the voluntary role as ‘childrens’ librarian’ in village library – how does that make you feel? Can you see yourself as the facilitator of a knowledge base comprising any number of other individuals, rather than as THE information manager?
  • Why is this space more of a learning commons, and neither a library nor a classroom? This is a photo of Duston School’s Hub…winner of this year’s Library Design Award. A space that is open, comfortable, adaptable to any number of uses with plenty of space for several activities to go on at once - with break out areas for large groups, small groups, and individuals This photo shows about ¼ of the total space. Space to create, space to collaborate! The Hub has up to 100 projects per year happen in this space. I saw it transformed into 3 different functions and all the furniture was reconfigured in 15 mins by 2 people PLUS Range of resources beyond any classroom Offers support with all range of media Offers the expertise of a wide range of people All so much more than any single classroom or traditional library space could provide
  • This space is ADAPTABLE TO DIFFERENT PURPOSES QUICKLY Even the Help desk isn’t fixed and could move where ever it is needed! David Loerscher asks ‘If it doesn’t move, does it really belong? HERE THE book stock has been moved to the walls, and by gaining floor space in the middle it can be used in new ways …it is reconfigured on average 6 times every day.
  • It may mean adding in a few new things you don’t normally see in a library Have you ever been to an Apple Store’s Genius Bar... in the LC there could be just such an EXPERT BAR with students and staff taking it in turns to provide ad hoc tutorials and coaching sessions. Digital camera trouble shooting sessions, magic classes, online publishing help Your resources will need to be everything from a glue stick to an ipad, a game to a wifi laptop. Yes, there will be least for a while :-) New spaces for a range of this a reading corner, a performance space, a place for collaboration? Pods but is this space for group collaboration or a quiet zone for individual work? Could be either.
  • This is your soon-to-be-user. She will grow up with technology She won’t need an IT lab.... she’ll need a space to create and collaborate with technology that is available 24/7 The Learning Commons exploits technology to the max so that everyone can learn how to use IT to collaborate, to create and to publish content, as well as know how to critically learn from other people’s content
  • And this is where the the invisible LC fits int - this is where the real changes are happening. The Library without walls, open 24/7 Inviting users to be creators as well as consumers. Forums, collaborative projects, wikis, networks such as FB, Twitter Youtube...and the thousands of apps for almost everything! QR codes, Tweetdeck, Voicethreads, electronic textbooks, etc. Keeping the kids off of it at school doesn’t prevent them using it. It just ensures they will use it badly. Many issues to cover here...not enough time...but you must not ignore this, but embrace it. Your users will.
  • A library website is a one way stream of information the Virtual LC is more dynamic than encourages users to work together. Closer to a social network. It is not a collection of resources that you as librarian or teacher put together. Again it is more dynamic than that – t constantly changing - built by the users (including the librarian and teachers) It is NOT a VLE....that is too limiting and based upon the school. Instead the Learning Commons wants to help everyone to build their own Personalised Learning Spaces that are individualised portals to ideas, people, resources AN ONLINE WORLD to collect, manage and publish for yourself beyond the confines of school...creating the foundations for life long learning
  • What obstacles are in the way of the devt of the LC? You might think it is senior management!
  • Evidence from the USA suggests that the lack of development of the LC in a school is is more likely to be due to: -the school having a small library space with computer labs in another part of the school - ‘dug-in’ IT management that doesn’t want to give its turf to others - Librarians with a set view of what a library should be, and what a librarian should do - possibly us??? .
  • Despite what is appears to be educational practice in the UK at the moment CHANGE IS NOT JUST COMING, ITS HERE in other countries There is a shift that is happening globally in education - move away from teacher directed to active learning - from classroom to network learning (Flipped classroom) - move from learning facts to using them to construct personal meaning (project based learning, eg Business Enterprise model already happening) - using skills of critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, communication - from IT lessons to integrated IT skills as part of every lesson - prediction of what will be obsolete by 2020 (NPR podcast) : desks, fixed computers, IT depts, print textbks
  • Out of school our students are SOCIAL LEARNERS….and so are WE How many of you used your phone this weekend to find information about something? How many of you tweeted about something you learned here? And then our social learning students come to school and are told to shut up and listen….and we wonder why they are no longer engaged with the education process?
  • MEANWHILE pity THE MANAGEMENT who IS CAUGHT IN A TRAP OF TESTING AND DIMINISHING BUDGETS thanks to pressures from government Successful Students are those who are good at ‘test-taking’ rather than developing skills those with the skills needed by industry (flexability, creativity, collaborative ability, critical and independent thinking) - MS’s Partners in Education research (less than 50% relevant) There is a mismatch between what in needed by society, what is wanted by our children, and what is being provided by our schools.
  • The Learning Commons COULD be a possible answer to all this doom and gloom The central network that links all learning. Forget being the heart of the school, but instead why not the brain and nervous system – Enabling information to flow to everyone - to keep learning alive throughout the body A place that is the stimulus for everything that supports learning that is social, collaborative, creative, independent, experimental and innovational. Essentially THE SCHOOL’S THINK TANK!
  • This will require new roles for everyone - the LC is a network rather than a hierarchy (the new business model e.g. Google) and this may be the BIGGEST STUMBLING BLOCK OF ALL! Librarian and IT Manager need to join forces - act as facilitators rather than gate-keepers LC management would be a TEAM of people - could be made up of information specialist, an IT specialist, a curriculum specialist ,and an admin support team. But could also include everyone in the school as a potential teacher, expert, consultant ……including kids, support staff, parents, local community Don’t be scared by what you might perceive as a loss of your identity - be a leader in a totally new and exciting way of working I showed Lynn Barrett the ideas of David Loertscher and others, and now she has been developing a new school library for Allerton Academy in Bradford. They have decided to build not only a new building but to develop a new library team. They put together a series of job descriptions for the new team to run the LC. The next slide is ONE page from a list of job descriptors for the team running the LC. ACTIVITY TWO : WHO DOES WHAT?
  • One page from a document DAA used to help them to define the LC team. Remember they are creating a TEAM of people so the work will need to be shared out between at least 4 people. I have ticked possible leadership roles for each of the responsibilities. Every member of the team might be involved in some way with each activity, but they share the leadership out equally. Can you decide how you would divide up these responsibilities? Are there some that you would think are the natural role of the Info Specialist…are there some that would have to be given to one of the others that you would hate to give up? Are there new roles for the info specialist that you don’t do now? How would this change your role in your school? How comfortable would you be working as part of this team?
  • In the book Learning Commons Treasury one American school librarian writes an account of how it took her 8 years to create the climate for change that meant that her traditional school library became an exemplary learning commons. What paved the way for success? - persistence and creativity - she continued to look for ways to influence a change in learning culture in the library - she read up on everything she could about changes in educational theory and practice AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, she linked everything she did to major school improvement initiatives
  • Change people’s view of you first. You are not a gatekeeper or a shelf tidier.
  • All of these Ideas require minimal cost
  • Ideas of moderate costs steps
  • Complete make-over!
  • My ideas were principally inspired by the work of David Loertscher who has been one of the driving forces behind the developing discussion of school LC in the USA. He publishes a range of books, as well as the wiki I just showed you. Several years ago CILIP produced an excellent DVD on school library design. Every school was sent a copy so you MAY have seen it before. But if not or if you want a refresher, on the CILIP website you can see on online version of the original. I really recommend that you take time to look or relook at it in light of what we have talked about today.
  • Anne-Marie Tarter: Our Common Future (SLA Weekend Course 2013)

    1. 1. Our Common Future what the Learning Commons approach could bring to school libraries
    2. 2. A library is not a building.....a library is not a collection of books. It’s also not a collection of resources either. We cannot define ourselves by the artifacts that we use. We are not in the book business. We’re in the knowledge business, helping, assisting and facilitating what our communities want. Phil Bradley’s blog 10/13/2011
    4. 4. The Learning Commons Model Ideas from David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, Sandi Zwaan, Esther Rosenfeld
    6. 6. MICROSOFT? APPLE ? Resources available in the school day Resources available 24/7 Resources selected by library staff Resources selected by users Heavy fixed furniture Totally moveable furniture Management determines how it runs Users determine how it runs Fixed timetable Flexible scheduling Private study Coaching, mentoring, collaboration Focus on knowledge building Focus on encouraging lifelong learning skills Place for reading and study Use of space determined by users A room full of resources A service Is your library
    10. 10. Is she CONSUMING or CREATING content?
    11. 11. The Virtual Learning Commons
    13. 13. How do we begin? WHAT obstacles MIGHT BE IN THE WAY?
    14. 14. Could the library be part of the problem?
    15. 15. It’s time this classroom Was FLIPPED!
    16. 16. THINK NETWORK...
    17. 17. New Roles for Everyone
    18. 18. Try, try, try again If at first you don’t succeed... TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
    19. 19. WAYS TO RE-CREATE THE CULTURE BECOME SKILLED IN IT (BEYOND WEB 2.0, CLOUD COMPUTING) and share that with others FOSTER COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION - where knowledge and expertise is pooled and age levels and subjects blur. ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT - before you do anything. Build an expectation of consultation.
    20. 20. WAYS TO RE-THINK YOUR SPACE Ask ‘if it doesn’t move, does it belong here... Is this a warehouse or a learning space? Could your bookshelves move to the wall? Could you use to pare down your bookstock? Could heavy tables etc. move to the edges? Can you put casters on anything? Can you use the furniture to create ‘zones’ ? Could you create new spaces...for An Expert Bar, for performance space, for collaboration zones with white- boards and pens, for creativity with paper and glue etc. ?
    21. 21. Ways to re-think how you WORK Work with your IT management team as much as possible Begin to develop your Virtual LC using as much social networking as your school will allow (and advocate for more!) Develop shared planning on cross-curricular projects Facilitate the development of the Expert Bar with student helpers initially. Who else could be involved?
    22. 22. WHEN YOU ARE READY FOR MORE.... •Invest in bandwidth, cloud computing, mobile digital devices, digital production tools, online databases, e- books etc. •Replace static furniture with flexible and easily moveable •Buy in screening, book pods etc to create zones •Increase staffing to allow changes in functioning - who else could become part of the ‘team’?
    23. 23. AND FOR A COMPLETE MAKE-OVER... Design a large space in which different activities can co-exist. Purpose-build furnishings, flexible zoning, and break-out rooms Embed IT and deliver wifi access throughout Open network filters Expand technology to create a diverse collection of both information and creation/publication tools totally merge the library and IT management departments, and restructure your staffing into a team of co-professionals
    24. 24. guiding principles always ‘beta’ open for all users, all activities, and 24/7 comfortable for different users (groups, solo, in chairs, on the floor, and from home) Inspiring and dynamic - a think tank of creativity! Built on constructivist learning theory Promote exploration, experimentation, construction, collaboration, and reflection High tech - to enable all USER DRIVEN !
    25. 25. PLACES FOR INSPIRATION Google the terms • ‘learning commons’ • ‘the unquiet library’ Go to The Learning Commons wiki Follow the Demco SLA Library Design Award Visit Allerton Academy in Bradford (opening Autumn 2013)
    26. 26. bibliography of sources Barseghlan, Tina. (2011). 21 Things That Will be Obsolete in 2020. Available: Last accessed 22 June 2012. Bradley,Phil. “A library is not....” Weblog entry. Phil Badley’s Weblog. Accessed 4 November 2011. <>. CILIP. (2011). Designed for Learning Video. Available: Last accessed 22 June 2012. Loertscher, David.The Physical and Virtual Learning Commons and Personal Learning Environments. Radio Interview., 31 January 2012 Loertscher, David. Librarians, Web 2.0, and Personal and Professional Development. Webinar on The Future of Education. com., October 2011. Loertscher, D.V., Koechin, C., and Rosenfeld, E. (2010). Building a learning common: a guide for school administrators and learning leadership teams.. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing. Loertscher, D.V., Koechin, C., Zwann, S. (2008). The new learning commons: where learners win! reinventing school libraries and computer labs. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing. Loertscher, D.V., Marcoux, E. (2010). The Learning Commons Treasury. Maryland: Teacher Librarian Press. Raven, Debbie. (2011). Draw them in. CILIP Update. December, 34-36.
    27. 27. bibliography- images Image slide 1: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. accessed 18 May 2012. Images slide3 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. Accessed 18 May 2012 Scott Library, York University, Toronto, Canada. Accessed 18 May 2012. Charles Sturt University Learning Commons, Waga Waga, New South Wales. Accessed 18 May 2012. Images slide 4: Learning Commons, Chelmsford High School, Maine, USA. Accessed 18 May, 2012. Learning Commons, Staples High School, Connecticut, USA Accessed 18 May 2012. Creative Commons, Lyle Classroom. Accessed 18 May 2012. Image slide 5: Purchased from Images slide 6: Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer 'stuck in the past' says David Einhorn   Telegraph Online 14 June 2012.­boss­Steve­Ballmer­stuck­in . Apple Genius Bar Covent Garden:: and Accessed 14 June 2012. Image slide 9: personal photo of A.M. Tarter
    28. 28. Images slide 10: ‘Comfort in a learning commons’ by Vicki Davis. ‘Library and IT help desks‘ by Alice W. “ CVHS Students Gather @ The Unquiet Library for the Roots Music Club Meeting, November 2011” All accessed on 19 May, 2012 Images slide 11: The Apple Store by djloche. The Craft Cupboard by Basketflat Steps by Superkimbo Reading Pod All accessed on 19 May, 2012. Images slide12: Power User by Courosa Accessed on 19 May, 2012. I mage in Slide 13 Virtual learning classroom in Second Life by danceinthesky Accessed on 19 May, 2012. Image slide 16: Obstacle: Accessed 14 June 2012. Image Slide 16 1950‘s Second Grade Classroom by St. Mary’s Digital Archive. Accessed 20 May 2012. Image slide 17: school library Accessed on 14 June 2012. Image Slide 18 Iphone Easy by G. Walter Accessed 20 May 2012. Image Slide 19 Headmaster Piper with alumni by Worcester Academy Photostream Accessed 20 May 2012 Image Slide 20 Network by sjcockell Accessed 20 May 2012. Image in Slide 21: Local marketing network by Sproutload Accessed 19 May, 2012. Image Slide 22: trial and error, Accessed 14 June 2012. Image Slide 29:Bangkok International School Accessed 22 June 2012.