The library is dead! Long live the library!

We closed the library.  Not just for winter break, but for the rest of the school year.  When it reopens, it will house a pretty awesome library program for middle school students, staff, and faculty.  The upper school community will return to school in August with a brand new academic commons.  This building will be the home to academic services, international & economic education, counseling, student activities, communications, an archives, a design lab/makerspace, a cafe, and the library.

The bones of the commons

The bones of the commons

The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind.  Cliche, I know, but true.  We  packed while students continued to study, work, and hang out.  Though they knew we were moving out, I don’t think the students really realized what was happening until boxes piled up around them.

I heard a lot of, “This is our last week in the library.”  And “Wow!  This is really happening.”  And, “This is sad.”  I also heard (because I was asked directly by a student), “Can we write on the walls?”

What what?!

My response, “Well, probably the sheetrocked walls, because those are coming down in the renovation.  But, that’s really a question for Ms. Chamberlain [the head librarian].”  

I was confident that the answer to the question would be “No!”

The answer was yes.  And boy oh boy did the inmates run and asylum for a good hour.

kids write on the walls before the library closes.

kids write on the walls before the library closes.

And it was really kind of amazing.

more wall writing

more wall writing

I was definitely outside of my comfort zone for a while, but I love this tribute to the library–this piece of art the kids created.

It’s a fitting tribute.  It’s chaotic.  It’s a jumbled ball of thoughts and feelings from ‘tweens and teens.  These walls belong to these kids.  The library belongs to the kids.  It has since the day I arrived 7 years ago.

The library has been a hangout space, a meeting space, a study space, a club space, a research space, a reading space, a concert space, a makerspace, a makeout space (so awkward to encounter that), a place kids come to be seen, a place kids come to talk.  This kind of space is not what comes to mind when your average Joe/Jane thinks of a library.

Sometimes that’s a point of contention, but tell me what you do when the kids have no where to go?  How can one expect a teenager to be in academic mode twelve or thirteen or fourteen hours a day with no break?  I want quiet to think and work sometimes, but I also want time and a place to tinker and play and talk and work with others.

The movers from American Interfile had us moved in a little over two days.

The makerspace is packed and ready to go

The makerspace is packed and ready to go

more stuff to move out

more stuff to move out

close to empty

close to empty

We librarians now dwell in two (rather comfortable) trailers for the rest of the school year.  We may get some visitors, but those trailers sure are removed from the rest of campus, and students have been tempted with the promise of a heated, tented area on the side of the cafeteria.  Though I won’t miss picking up trash and abandoned laptops, I will miss the (awful) Friday morning Third Eye Blind sing-a-longs.  I will miss eavesdropping on conversations of kids so comfortable that they forget they’re in the library.

There’s lots to be done though.  Lots of planning for the opening of the commons.  My section of senior seminar on the DIY/Maker movement starts January 8th.  I have this feeling that the next year will be the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time.  I’m going to do my best to document and reflect on it here.

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