by Sandy Killian Biale
Picture a library built with 21st century learning in mind. You hear the wonderful hum of learning as light shines through the beautiful two-story windows onto a large open workspace where teenagers collaboratively work on their own or school-provided devices accessing the library webpage, the library catalog or the school databases. Some are reading a novel from Follett Shelf or from the stacks. Some students sit on the couches and chairs perusing the magazines while others work quietly in the no-talking study rooms.
Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful place for students to congregate and learn? This was the vision the principal, library clerk and I had for the district’s first Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) library at American Canyon High School.
Cue music screeching to a halt. Picture the reality, which is that same library now filled to overflowing with 150 students, seated around the tables, couches and on the floor because all the seats are taken. It is so loud that you can hardly hear the student asking a question across the circulation desk. There are large groups of 9th and 10 graders (the only two grades in the school) playing Halo and Minecraft. The quiet study rooms are the hangout rooms.
How did our dream of a BOYD Library turn into this hub of chaos?
When planning the library, there were a few factors we didn’t consider.
First, the school opened with only 9th and 10th grade so the school was missing the maturity of the upperclassmen. Second, the library clerk and I had been at the middle school library. In many ways this was wonderful. The students knew us, they felt comfortable in the library, but they felt too comfortable. At the middle school, we have many board games, like chess, for the students to check out and play. When they came to the high school they felt that any type of gaming in the library was fine. Finally, staffing was too low. The district cut our librarian’s hours the year we opened, so the library was staffed with a 20 hour-per week clerk and a librarian who was present 50% or the time, resulting in only one staff member in the library at a time.
This is not enough staffing to establish a school culture and it definitely wasn’t enough staffing when the library became the place to hangout. Very little learning was happening in our BYOD library. Students couldn’t study as it was too noisy, chaotic and there were just too many people for the space.
So readers I ask you, was the fearless library staff able to create the library they first envisioned for American Canyon High School? How could it be done? These questions and more will be answered next month when you tune into Part 2 of “The Evolution of a BYOD Library”.
Have you created a BYOD library at your school? I’d love to hear about your journey. Please share with me by commenting below.