When was the last time you took a trip to the card catalog? According to a 2015 Smithsonian Magazine article, it has been a while and it is officially over. In fact, a full generation has never laid its hands on those soft, over-handled, yellowed cards some of us remember as opening up the world. For those who are sentimental, who miss the smell of oak and worn paper, you can still find a card catalog on E-bay, very practical for storing spices or filing away really small things. For the rest, the card catalog is an antique, a symbol of how our world and our libraries have evolved in such a very short time.
Today, the library is much more than checking out books and doing research. In fact, the moniker “Library” in some schools has changed to “Media Center,” “Information and Learning Center,” “Knowledge and Discovery Center,” “Academic Center,” and the list goes on…countless euphemisms that attempt to describe what the modern library means. It means AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES, and students at The Lexington School have them all in ONE library at The Lexington School.
Here’s why: Libraries like the one at The Lexington School have become centers of creativity and innovation. Digital resources, maker spaces, collaboration commons, and story nooks are as prominent as the shelves that hold the books. How students learn to manage information is as important as the information itself. And developing a love of learning is as much the goal as providing the right resources for the questions at hand.
School librarians like Mrs. Laurie Nawor and Mrs. Lori Hancock have professionally evolved into digital literacy and citizenship instructors, project facilitators, party planners, faculty collaborators, and of course STILL the best “read alouders.” They teach every student at The Lexington School, planning alongside grade-level faculty to incorporate research, media, and creative thinking skills. The library is turbocharged, interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
THE MODERN LIBRARY
Ask Laurie and Lori for their job descriptions, and this is what you get:
Yes, all in ONE library! They are busy professionals who juggle a different schedule each day while touching the lives of every single student at The Lexington School.
A Few Examples:
- First Grade Coding—Young minds become computer engineers using creative technology. Is it a game, a puzzle, or computer coding? It’s all of those things, all in one library.
- Book Trailers—Students choose Newbery Award nominated books, read them, and build movie trailers summarizing their stories in an interdisciplinary, creative way. They read, write, create, act, direct, film, edit…all in ONE library.
- Substance and Health Cross-Curriculum—In collaboration with Nurse Kristin, 5th-grade students build projects using primary/secondary digital and print resources to learn essential facts about keeping their bodies safe and healthy.
- 3rd-grade library helpers—A great introduction to the inner-workings of the library and while nurturing a service mindset, 3rd-grade volunteers help to make the library accessible for everyone.
- Battle of the Books—3rd through 5th graders county-wide read a different book every two weeks—sponsors from participating schools select titles to include on lists for the local competition. Students begin reading from the lists in August, and teams compete in a series of contests in the spring.
- Book Club—a fun place to enjoy a good book and a great discussion, book club attracts an eclectic array of students and adults who meet once a month to talk about literature.
- Capstone Collaboration—the capstone project in the 8th-grade year could not happen without the assistance and resources of the library. Research, technology, and collaboration is the key to capstone, so the library is just the place.
- Writers Guild—a celebration of writing and illustration, this culmination of a year of creativity happens in only one place—the library. Visiting authors and artists join students and parents to teach and celebrate the art and creativity of storytelling.
- National Library Week—A week-long celebration of reading, the library organizes events like the reading train (big kids read to little kids), visiting readers (parents and special friends), and the creative Dress as Favorite Character Day.
Nine examples are just the beginning. To list what happens all in ONE TLS library would turn a blog to an ebook. The library is energy all day every day. Every age and stage Acorns through 8th grade and their teachers flow in and out of this centerpiece of the school.
Imagine the library landscape. The reading nook is filled with captivated listeners while Mrs. Nawor reads aloud. A few chess players battle it out at a corner table. Students tap computer keyboards searching for a source. Mrs. Hancock presents something new to a cluster of curious kids. A small group sets up the green screen for some film work. The rest are scattered here and there quietly reading a book or writing a paper. All in ONE library all at the same time!
For years now, the TLS librarians have maximized their space and resources to provide an inclusive environment that engages learning opportunities for the entire school. With so much action all in ONE library, future-ready space was and is MUCH needed.
So in May, we signed the old library wall away in a symbolic ceremony and began to pack the resulting 454 boxes. Now we eagerly await the finish of a modern TLS library. Thanks to the completion of the ONE School Project Academic Center, library teaching and learning will have space and innovation to explore even more. We are future-ready.
Lori Hancock, Librarian: “I look forward to welcoming our students and seeing their excitement as they explore their new curiosity headquarters! With our new digital collection, video-production, and innovation labs, our library program will move beyond traditional bookshelves and into a realm of endless possibilities.
- New and improved storytelling nooks assure students continue to hear the written word and enjoy the magic of storytelling.
- Innovation Lab (I Lab)—Makerspaces are an important aspect of modern school libraries because they provide a dedicated area for students to explore STEM concepts for themselves.
- Larger Common Space—cleverly-designed areas allow students to work together or alone and to find the spaces they need to get the most out of their time.
- Technology—Computers and printers are available for all-school use.
- The Loft—Space is designated for group work, meetings, projects, and independent work.
- Flexible Furnishing–modular furniture allows for customized teaching, learning, and meeting.
What’s Staying the Same:
Laurie Nawor, Librarian: “When the library was closed this spring for packing, we met our students in their classrooms and offered to take them outside to play. Some of them actually cried because they wanted to stay in and listen to us read a story to them. They wanted to hear the book. In some schools, the library is the only place where kids have access to STEM. At The Lexington School, we are lucky because our kids have dedicated science and creativity classes, so while the library is a wonderful place to explore these areas, we also get the time and space for nurturing a love of reading. We embrace innovation in our library, but we will never lose focus on the importance of reading and storytelling. Kids still desperately need that.”
It’s all in ONE library. The library is the centerpiece of the brand-new ONE School Project Academic Center at The Lexington School. It proves the center and the symbol of the school’s unique values—teaching and learning in the most engaging, creative, and collaborative way where students feel safe to take risks and rise to their individual potential. The TLS library is a place where the love of learning is embraced and celebrated, and it is present and NOW future-ready.
“We call it a library, but really, I see it as TLS’s new CURIOSITY COMMAND CENTER!”-Lori Hancock