3 questions – an assignment

Recently I had to respond to some questions in a course I’m taking for an “add-on” endorsement on my teaching certificate. I thought I’d share some of it here.

How is your Media Center currently structured to support an environment that promotes literacy?

The Dorman High School Library is laid out in a very traditional layout for a library. Pictured here, you can see the Cathedral ceiling and windows; what you can’t see is the sides (right and left) that have a 12-14 foot dropped ceiling aligned with the white lines above the brick columns. The room is basically symmetrical, with the wings off the center being roughly the same shape and size, with only a slight difference. This picture is from eight or ten years ago, so even though some of the hardware has changed, the layout remains the same.

Picture taken April 2012

The 40 laptops are arranged in a basic center square sitting on computer tables that provide connection to a wired network drop, but they do utilize wifi when disconnected. Most classes opt to use them as they appear here. The library’s computers are the only ones in the building not in a lab that have access to printing, so there is a lot of traffic and use due to printing needs.

We are physically located in the center of the main building, residing between the two major arteries that divide the building into an A wing and a B wing, front hall and rear hall (think center of the hashtag). Three years ago Dorman added a newly constructed C wing, but the library still serves the entire complex, despite being a good distance from the new C wing. The location is within proximity to one major cafeteria, the study hall class, the main office, and the main guidance office. (Yes there is a second cafeteria and guidance office in C wing, and these primarily serve classes in that wing.) We are the hub of the school. Outside of scheduled classes, our teens choose to visit before school, during lunch, or when they have open blocks in their schedule. The kids visit to read, use the computers, work on projects, or sit in our comfortable seating. It is not unheard of for there to be up to 100 students visiting at one time. We offer classes print and electronic resources and several areas to spread out and work. Three classes have easily functioned in the library at one time, and we have even borrowed space outside the library to support learning or projects when space is limited in the library, such as for example, hosting book club in the C wing guidance office conference area. To facilitate collaboration, we have a table set up in one of the library offices as well as just behind the circulation desk. Even though our space for collaboration is limited, we have found that oftentimes the best collaborative conversations happen in unexpected places, such as out in the middle of the library, in the hallway between classes, over the phone or email, or in the teachers’ lounges, so we do not stress the limited collaborative space. As the map shows, many of the conference rooms the library enjoyed before our time are now assigned to other faculty/staff. Our nonfiction resources are on the left side. The very popular graphic novels and Manga are towards the front left, pulled out of nonfiction to a section of their own. The right side of the library primarily holds the Fiction books. Reference is declining and inter shelved in the Nonfiction according to their Dewey classification.

Briefly describe what your Media Center currently “looks” like.

The Google Drawing below shows our current library layout. As one can see, we are limited in “wall space” since we enjoy an open airy layout. Most walls are lined from the floor to eight feet high with shelving for books.

I took this picture in September 2013 to show that kids will move to this location looking for a comfy seat.

We have to get really creative with the space on the brick columns and shelving ends to decorate or set up book displays. When we have projects to display (a recent example was for the 3d models of a battle scene) we usually block off an area using chairs around a section of tables, and then create an entrance and exit for traffic flow to allow viewing. There is a small area of comfortable seating that resembles furniture one might see in a doctor’s office waiting room, but because it is all we have, students gravitate toward it.

Taken in Sept 2013, this shows how we use our massive brick columns for displays and more.

Another pic from May 2014 shows how we use our limited wall space.

This picture shows the low 3ft shelving in the Nonfiction area of the library. (Yes they were originally taken way back when to feature student artwork from recylced weeded books.)

How could you improve the way your Media Center supports literacy?

We just went through a serious weeding in our nonfiction area.  Our current project that focuses on the nonfiction books is condensing the shelves. I would strive for a Learning Commons approach instead of the current traditional library we are using. In a perfect world, I would remove all of the 3 foot high shelving from the library to free up floor space. I would also remove all the computer tables, and instead acquire more comfortable and teen friendly seating spaces for students to enjoy. I’d like a charging bar facing the cafeteria windows. The laptops would go into a couple of laptop carts that would be managed behind the circulation desk, laptops being checked out as needed to students for library use. I would acquire a couple of the large digital flat screen displays (LCD, Plasma, Interactive), and set up conference style tables, allowing students to hook up a laptop or their own device for group presentations or collaborative work. In this same vein, I would try to acquire dry erase tables and maybe make a couple of the brick columns dry erase too, encouraging students to utilize the space as needed. All tables, chairs and low shelving (if we had any to remain) would be on casters so that they could be relocated easily, allowing for a more flexible use of the space. Having flexibility would allow us to set up a makerspace that is accessible and easy to move/relocate. With the condensing of the nonfiction, I would relocated Graphic Novels and manga to a more accessible space, and I would set up an area of urban lit as well. I’m not ready to genrify the collection as a whole, but condensing the nonfiction certainly makes it a thought worth entertaining.

I will continue to show my administration high school libraries who have moved to a similar format, even though to date this has not been successful. I am optimistic that with the ongoing new construction and renovations of area high schools (Byrnes and Spartanburg High Schools) I’ll be able to show him it is a growing trend to move towards a Learning Commons Concept and away from the traditional library that we utilize today.

This Google Drawing shows the layout of the library as it is now, and has been for the duration of its existence.

Key for the Google Drawing

Why do this?

My assignment in the course I’m taking called for a similar assignment. I now have to go back and tweak this to make it fit the specs for that assignment, but decided I would share this version here. If any readers out there have some links to pictures and information of libraries who have transformed, please share in the comments area.

Recently one of our athletic booster club members, Ed Overstreet, made a video showcasing the school from high above. I thought it worthy of sharing in this post.

Tour of Dorman from Ed Overstreet on Vimeo.



Picture Attributions:

Each and every picture and drawing used in this post are mine created under the “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic” Creative Commons License. 

Video Attribution:
Overstreet, Ed. (July 21, 2017). Tour of Dorman. Retrieved July, 25, 2017 from https://vimeo.com/226491185.


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