- Culture centre for Conwy
- Training rooms in libraries
- Refurbishment for the University of Salford library
- A collective living room
- The Connect Experience
- Wandsworth's libraries - bigger and better
- Shelving and storage at University of Birmingham
- Designing libraries in the 21st century
- Heritage preserved in Dartford Library
- Library and campus for Malawi
- Winning designs for Shanghai's city library
- The Hive and Heritage Quay are winning libraries
- Inside the Design Library
- Libraries are the new tourist attractions
- A wider choice for self-service and book-sorting solutions
- Designing the Dubai British School
- Under one (or another) umbrella
- A modernist refurbishment
- The Word - design thinking for our time
- A green branch for Toronto Public Library
- A design-led study hub for Magdalen
- University of Birmingham's £44 million new library
- Transforming the Bodleian's Weston Library
- The Curve opens in Slough
- The future of library services
- Library and gallery for Haverfordwest
- A library for social connection and creative discovery
- Wandsworth's libraries after outsourcing
- Libraries feature in RIBA awards
- University of Glasgow library refurbishment complete
- Unique infill project for the National Library of Wales
- An integrated portfolio of products
- The microlibrary made from ice cream buckets
- Crewe's £15m Lifestyle Centre creates waves
- Reshaping the future library
- Consultants appointed to design County Library
- An eye for China
- Next phase for Reading underway
- Modernisation at Ebbw Vale Library
- Hebburn Central a success
- An innovative library space for kids
- 2016 News Archive
- 2015 News Archive
2014 News Archive
- Students at the heart of new library
- Libraries out of a box
- The new libraries of Europe
- Black shelving for 'raw' University of Greenwich library
- Funky, bright and imaginative
- Refurbishment for Abingdon Campus
- Designing the National Library of Israel
- Self-service hits the streets of Portsmouth
- New mobile and static shelving for Institute library
- Modernism prize for restored Alvar Aalto library
- Inspiring the school library
- Fresh layout for Lincoln College
- Child's play at the Pinch
- Library and media centre for South Shields
- Libraries are always in the news
- A library of things
- Peters in the Caribbean
- Inside Calgary's new Central Library
- Public Library of the Year Award
- Why didn't anyone tell me?
- Library futures and trends
- The rise of the bookless library
- Designing a library for changing needs
- Building of Cambridge University Library in pictures
- New home for Black Cultural Archives
- Regeneration project for Lancaster University Library
- 20 years of innovation in library design
- 20,000 metres of shelving for new library
- Primary school library design for beginners
- Libraries at a tipping point
- The new learning commons
- Library design - what do you think?
- Wayfinding in Vancouver
- Be Inspired! SLA Inspiration Award shortlist announced
- The sustainable library
- What does it mean to build a library in Iraq?
- Two tier high capacity mobile shelving
- School library is a star
- Next generation learning commons
- Redesigned Exeter Central Library opens
- Borrow a robot
- A vision for the University of Birmingham
- New framework for Welsh Public Library Standards
- Lenny Henry opens Dudley's new archives
- The state of America's libraries
- Eye-popping library for Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Further funding for Welsh libraries
- Hunt Library wins top design award
- Glass end-panel shelving for medical library
- Manchester Central Library reopens
- So much has changed in libraries...
- Shipping container solution for library
- The Murray Library refurbishment
- New East Ham library opens
- Inspired library design
- Library and bookshop combined in Mexico City
- Design and build contract for Luton campus library
- New £12m Marylebone library approved
- Static and mobile shelving for Brynmor Jones Library
- Tender issued for Welsh LMS
- Library and Heritage Centre will be a landmark
- Open all hours
- 2013 News Archive
- 2012 News Archive
- 2011 News Archive
- 2010 News Archive
Inspiring the school library
In an introduction to the SLA Inspiration Award for library design, Greg Rixon of Gresswell praised the award for raising awareness of the value of school libraries.
15 October 2014
The changing role of the school library
I have some statistics for you relating to school library provision in England:
- More than 25% of secondary school libraries do not operate a full day.
- Only 17% of libraries have enough computers or laptops for an average size class.
- Almost a third of libraries have insufficient space.
- The number of books does not match the increasing number of students.
- Half of library budgets for books and resources have been frozen at the previous year’s level.
- It is statutory to have a library in a prison but not in a school.
The role of the library is changing as the needs of our children change. We have to change with them and adapt. But children still need the right environment for learning.
Children need to learn to read and it is our job to create the environment for them to do so. Even more than that it is our role to inspire children and to help them to develop a lifelong love of reading. The environment a pupil learns in is vital to their comprehension and desire to learn. We are already reading reports that literacy levels in children are falling - you don't need to be a genius to work out why. Why do successive governments continue to talk about falling education standards and yet do not tackle the fundamental issues. Back to basics? We've heard that said again and again. I know where I'd start.
Digital information, readily accessed from classrooms, homes, and mobile devices, is the choice of today's students and teachers—resulting in increasingly fewer in-person visits to libraries.
For a 100 years, many schools have created spacious rooms that contain thousands of books and other physical materials to support reading programmes, aid research projects, and expand the curriculum. Numerous studies show that schools with good library programmes are more successful than those without, validating the wisdom of education leaders who have invested in school libraries. Yet information seekers today have less need to visit a physical library to meet their needs.
The library as a physical space
Many school leaders are asking, Why does a school need a physical library when students can readily access information using a laptop, a tablet computer, or a mobile phone? Can these large, expensive spaces in our schools be used for other purposes that will produce greater educational benefits? When building a new school, should we ask whether it even needs a library?
Students still want to meet and learn in physical environments. Online bookstores have not killed the physical bookstore. But like bookstores, the school library needs to become a high-touch environment in a high-tech world.
Comfort and appearance are increasingly important. Upholstered seating, flexible furniture arrangements, and attention to aesthetics in lighting and colours help make the library a place where students and staff want to be.
The modern library is a place for teams to work together, formally and informally. For schools that have no other spaces for recreation and play, such as a student commons or an adequately equipped playground, the library can provide such spaces, especially before and after school. A successful library adopts a liberal definition of what constitutes constructive activity, allowing users to engage in gaming and research on topics of personal interest. Such a library may be the only place at school where some students feel at home.
We need to stop thinking of the library as a store—a place to "get stuff"—and start thinking of it as a kitchen—a place to "make stuff". Libraries are becoming maker-spaces, giving all students access to workstations with fast processing speed, adequate memory, and software for video and photo editing, music production, voice recordings, computer programming, multimedia composition, and even 3-D printers.
Designing and equipping school libraries for our times
As digital access moves from computer workstations to mobile devices, the physical library needs a robust wireless network infrastructure. Also essential are numerous electrical outlets to power and recharge mobile devices; indirect lighting that reduces screen glare throughout the library, not just in computer labs; and workspaces on which laptops can be placed at a good ergonomic height.
We can learn by looking at places where young people want to be. Coffee shops show that young people want social learning spaces. Gyms and theatres indicate that libraries should be performance spaces where young people can share information, not just absorb it. And finally, the popularity of social networking sites and media sharing sites demand that we make libraries knowledge-production areas.
A well-designed and widely used library is a physical indicator that a school embraces certain values regarding education; that multiple points of view have value; that teaching children how to think, not just memorise, is crucial; and that self-exploration should be encouraged. These values remain, even as the library space evolves.
As suppliers of specialist resources to school, academic and public libraries, Gresswell and LFC are committed to a focus on the benefits to a school of a library space and is working with the School Library Association to support, encourage and promote these spaces. We are delighted to sponsor the Inspiration Awards.
- This page can be found in the following news feeds:
- Designing Libraries