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Relevant, smart libraries of the future

imageEver heard, “Quiet, please use an inside voice”, in your own school library?

While there's still a place for designated quiet spaces for thinking, libraries in the traditional sense, are evolving. With influences in society and access to information 24/7 (through the use of technologies), modern libraries or information centres are changing.

In School libraries, building capacity for learning in the 21C, Lyn Hay and Coleen Foley tentatively predict,

“Libraries of the future will be built on a strong foundation of evidence-based practice, with student learning as the core value.”

So, what does a ‘good’ library environment and management look like where the core values of learning are at the heart of the design?


Viscount Primary School: Source: National Library: | Learning facilitation

Next Wednesday,  21 August, guest speakers, Paula Eskett and Peter Murgatroyd from the National Library, are going to delve into the potential of modern libraries and discuss the potential for: environment (physical), teaching (human) and technology (virtual). Feel free to join us and Register here.

In the meantime, Paula invites us to think about:

  • How do we create the physical , virtual and pedagogical links between the library/learning commons as a learning space and the classroom/learning hub?
  • How can the library as space add value to or complement the open learning hub school environment / a traditional single cell classroom environment?
  • How can we upgrade our libraries - what do we keep, what do we change, and what do we delete?
  • What are the barriers to creating Modern Library Environments? 



If you liked this, you might also like:


  • More great questions, assumptions and links to research and literature can be found in the National Library’s resource @ School Library Futures.
  • National Library’s collection of school libraries: excellence in practice @ Learning facilitation 
  • Services to Schools's compilation of library resources and readings in Scoop.it.

Image sourced from Creative Commons


  • Esther Casey (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2013 8:16pm ()

    Thank you Peter and Paula for the thought provoking webinar this afternoon.  In the last couple of hours my mind has kept returning to a quote from Diana Patience at Ormiston Senior College in one of the videos you showed ( http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/multimedia/school-libraries-excellence-practice-ormiston-senior-college )   "We are wanting our librarian to push the boundaries, to be curious, to be flexible...".  The word 'curious' caught my attention today.

    I think about the teaching as inquiry process that teachers undertake and the curiosity required as a part of this, how do librarians measure their impact on students?  What part of their role is valued and measurable?    

    I've also been thinking about the genuine curiosity for everything and anything that, when shown, is infectious.  A librarian has such a key role in modelling enthusiasm for questions, for wondering, for sparking and nurturing an alternative viewpoint, in a truly multi-dimensional, cross-discipline and safe environment.  

    I'd love to hear what other people took away from this afternoon.



  • Cheryl (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2013 8:52pm ()

    The bit about librarians and hearing thier voice in meetings is something I took away today. We have a curriculum/project team structure at our school. Our Library Assistant is a member of the Library team. She has a voice on this team which in turn feeds into senior lead team/managment structure. What I am more interested in is how can we include her in our other curriculum teams and in particular our syndicate teams to get her perspective and input into our learning and teaching programmes.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2013 9:49pm ()

    Yeah, I couldn't agree more Esther and Cheryl, I learned a lot today too - especially about how we need to change our paradigms - so that the libary is at the centre of our learning conversations at school. Thanks so much Paula and Peter Smile

    Here's a summary from Catriona Pene:

    Today's webinar on Smart Libraries and Information Hubs of the Future, really challenged the traditional image of a library as a quiet space full of print material.

    Learn how to learn and relearn says Peter Murgatroyd. Turn the library into a collaboratory!

    Paula Eskett threw out the idea of coming in and leaving with a book to one of collaboration and engagement within the library space. The changing role of the librarian from one of book issuer to one as a learning coach and an information enabler is an exciting transformation!

    The process of changing your library is a journey - make changes and try out new things, don't be afraid to try new furniture, layout and spaces. Mobile shelving lets you have flexible spaces and surprises so learners have new experiences each time they visit, library spaces become flexible, mobile, re-designable, let’s change our thinking about the spaces!

    When making plans for change in a library environment, don't think either/or when thinking about change in a library think and/and. A library is space where all the 'ands' come together - paper AND books AND technology AND collaboration AND creativity.

    Don't think and | and

    Locate your libary at the centre of the school and create a new relevance for the library in the school, supporting the teachers AND the students.

    Ask yourself - How do our learners see our library? Do we ask them? Do we involve them in the learning journey? Is our librarian a learning coach?

    The library needs to be part of ALL our conversations - what is the role of the library and librarians as we move into the future? 

    How are we preparing all students for a future that is by default digital?  HUGE question -very valuable discussion starter.

    Library resources

    Here's the webinar recording (just as it played out today) for you to view and share with others. In addition, here's the original presentation from Paula Eskett and Peter Murgatroyd (National Library services). Enjoy!

  • Madeline Campbell (View all users posts) 23 Aug 2013 10:39pm ()

    I found myself seeing clear intersecting parallels between best teaching practice and best 'library' practices to empower and support 21st century learners. There was a clarity and conciseness in the presentation that really helped me to 'better order' my own forming ideas about these things (thanks!!).

    These thoughts were triggered for me, they might seem a bit 'off topic', but for me, they are 'hand in hand'. I was teaching in South Auckland when Botany Downs College was being built, and my teaching friends and I duly rushed along to the Saturday morning open meeting for teachers, I remember it distinctly. Now I have fresh ideas about those communal, central learning spaces that seem unique to these new secondary schools, compared to the old schools. Why build a separate library at all? Would the library function within this shared space? I can clearly see now how teachers might 'inhabit' this shared area regularly, alongside an information coach - the teacher in the role as a complementary 'thinking coach'.

    Personally, I've been trying to think how I might be able to pilot a senior class that learns through an 'authentic' project within an integrated curriculum structure. I couldn't get my head around how to manage the 'learning/teaching' space for this hypothetical class, which would be working within an inquiry / knowledge building community model... after hearing this presentation, I would locate the teacher in the 'library', the students could work in the library or go to specialist rooms, as they need. Problem solved, no need for a purposely managed teaching space for a class like this? BYOD would support this idea too. This would be a way of activating transformational change within a traditional school that is organised around resources rather than students...

  • Helen Prescott (View all users posts) 30 Aug 2013 12:02pm ()

    Unfortunately I was running an 'unconference' so couldn't attend this fabulous webinar.  I have finally made the time to watch it.  We are currently looking at changing our traditional 'library' to a learning hub so this was valuable thank you.  

    I was wondering about the security of devices in the 'learning hub'.  How have people ensured they don't go 'walk-about' yet can be flexible in their use?    I see Ormiston college the children had to sign their devices out, I guess like a library book.  What have other people done?

    And I'm interested in finding out how people are storing their devices, particularly overnight.

  • Catriona Pene (View all users posts) 26 Nov 2013 2:25pm ()

    Hello everyone again,

    Recently I was asked by one of the teachers at a school I am working in to help him gather some links to showcase what is possible in libraries of the future.

    As well as giving him the webinar recording to view and the links shared above to explore, I asked for help from Jeannie Skinner at National Library.

    Here are some of the links to library stories available on the National Library Site.

    Viscount Primary School  in Auckland.

    Raroa Intermediate in Wellington where the library is also supported by a website and a library blog

    Ormiston Senior College is one of New Zealand's newest and most forward-thinking senior high schools.

    Looking for some more inspiring library furntiture? You might like to check out Instinct Furniture

    Thanks to Jeannie Skinner for helping with these links. 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 01 Aug 2014 10:09am ()

    Here's a link shared by Mark Osborne via Twitter: What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like? Looks like a dynamic place to be Smile. Does this sound like your library?

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