Today, school libraries look quite different than they did when previous generations attended school.
Instead of rows of long tables and shelves filled with dusty books, school libraries now provide flexible and group learning spaces, movable furniture, iPads and computers, learning pods, and more.
Architects are being hired in certain schools to completely re-design and transform libraries to attract students to not only read, but use the space to their own advantage.
By making these facilities visually appealing, as well as comfortable and playful with elements such as reading nooks and beanbags, kids are more engaged and inspired to enjoy reading and learning.
Here are some examples of school libraries of the future that align with 21st century teaching methods (such as collaborative learning) and incorporate technology and visual elements to encourage independent learning and make reading fun.
The Learning Hub, St Andrew’s Anglican College
The Learning Hub at St Andrew’s Anglican College in Queensland, Australia, is not just a library but a flexible and collaborative learning space which incorporates offices, lounges, an outdoor learning area and technology.
According to Steelcase, “Located at the center of the campus site, the Learning Hub is physically and metaphorically the center of the school, a true hub set between the primary and secondary schools for easy access by all students and all levels.
“Designed by Wilson Architects, the large two storey building features extensive use of glass to provide natural light, and blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors to take advantage of the Sunshine Coast’s excellent climate.”
Wi-Fi access and plug-and-play connectivity to large screens allow students to seamlessly share information and use technology to their advantage.
Dixons Allerton Academy
The library at this UK school has been transformed into an engaging learning environment, complete with a contained space that providesa sensory experience – with big screens, smoke and wind machines, and spotlights.
According to The Guardian, “The library is not just a new physical space, replacing a traditional book-lined room that had buckets on the floor because of leaky ceilings; it also plays an important part generally in delivering the curriculum.
“It does this through e-learning and information literacy specialist staff who loan out equipment and support teachers and students in using it wherever it is needed.
“Only three pieces of equipment in the library are fixed, and these are for searching the catalogue. All other computers are laptops, with seating and tables equally moveable to allow the space to be used for exhibitions of pupils’ work or curriculum-linked displays, debates, presentations and even a jazz band.”
There is also iBeacon technology enabled to deliver relevant information directly to students’ iPads.
Lake Mills Elementary School
This library in Lake Mills Elementary School, Wisconsin, US, is a flexible learning space with cubbies, reading nooks, wall cut-outs, movable furniture and group activity spaces.
According to ReadBrightly, “The flexible learning environment benefits staff and students who can arrange the space to meet their specific learning needs.
“The interior design of the library reflects the natural world outside with brightly colored walls for the sky, white lighting for the clouds, winding bookshelves for the rivers, and earthy toned flooring.”
Here, there has been an increased focus in bringing outdoor elements inside, as well as encouraging more outdoor play, as hands-on learning in a natural setting spurs learning and allows kids to become more engaged.
In keeping with this theme, this UK school has redesigned their library to look like a “story garden”. According to The Guardian, it is “complete with astroturf floors, a hobbit house big enough to take an infant class, a reading tower tree house and toadstool tables to use for writing.
“There is a play area with a stage, and clothes to dress up in so children can re-enact a story they have just heard. A canopy covers the garden so everyone stays dry, but enough fresh air gets in for coats to be needed in winter.”
The enchanting space provides students with a cosy place to enjoy traditional storybooks and allows for natural and independent learning.