Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Small Changes Bring Big Results - Finding New Ways to Enhance Our OHE Library!

Like most librarians, I am always looking for ways to improve our library. I genrified the fiction a little over a year ago, so I feel like the collection is arranged to help students find what they want to read. But I also want our library to be a place where students not only find books, but also discover their love of reading. (Nothing beats finding a place to curl up with the book!) In keeping with trends in library spaces, I would also like students to find the space appealing for other discoveries as well...a place for group collaboration, a place to spread out and work on projects, a place to create, and a place where students and teachers can find inspiration.  Slowly, as my small budget has allowed, I have begun to find ways to update and improve the space. My inspiration has come from a multitude of sources.

Several of my colleagues were inspired to make iPad catalog search stations. They look cool and modern, while also not taking up much floor space! I already had the iPads, all I needed were the iPad stands! After several failed orders that didn't yield quite the right thing, I finally found the perfect stands...low enough for my students (my first attempt wasn't height adjustable) and ones that allow me to easily take the iPads in and out for charging.  I don't have a source of power close enough to the stands to charge them. The new stands are perfect!

For years I have wanted to create an alternate seating area to inspire students to get comfortable and read. Little did I know that I had what I needed already in the form of lounging cushions I bought when I opened the building 18 years ago. For years I kept moving them around, stacking them in out of the way places because they were more of a nuisance than anything else.  It took our district's newest Digital Learning Specialist, Hilary Moorlach, to bring a fresh approach and create the perfect cozy space using the cushions she had in her library. So I purchased an inexpensive throw rug, pushed around a few tables, and voila - new flexible seating area! Students and teachers love love love it! My only disappointment is that I didn't do it sooner!

Finally, I wanted to give students and teachers additional opportunities for learning in the library. Earlier this year I went to our PTO for funding for a new "MakerSpace". For those who aren't acquainted with the term, a makerspace is a collaborative work space for making, learning, exploring and sharing. Our OHE PTO graciously gave me $1000 to begin.  Despite my excitement and appreciation for the funding, I knew I would have to be very judicious to stretch the dollars as far as they would go. Rather than buy enough for a whole class maker activity, I decided to go with a plan to buy 5 of each makerspace tool so that students would have a choice of projects. I also wanted a variety of high and low tech options for students. I decided to purchase Makedo Tools (for cardboard construction), Robot Mice (coding), Ozobots (robots), Straws & Connectors (inexpensive design & construction), and Bloxels (video game designing).  This is only the beginning as there are several more tools that will help me expand our options for students, but these make a great beginning!