Effective learners are not just those who are knowledgeable but rather they are people who are able to find and use information as required. It can be said that effective learners are those that are information literate. Information literacy is synonymous with knowing how to learn. This means that the ability to process and use information effectively is more than a basic tool for the empowerment of school students: It is in fact the basic survival skill for those who wish to be successful members of the 21st century.
— Learning for the Future: Developing Information Services in Australian Schools, 2nd edition
School libraries (also called library media centers) have long been the hub of the school — the center around which other parts of the school revolve. Within the library’s walls are hundreds of books and vast amounts of information necessary to support the lessons being taught throughout the rest of the school. However, as the quote above illustrates, the school library is about more than reading books and learning lessons on specific subjects; it’s a resource that plays a vital role in the development of students’ learning skills as they progress through the educational system.
School libraries today need to be designed to help facilitate information literacy. To be “information literate” means that a person is able to determine when more information is needed, and is able to find, access, evaluate, and apply that information to the situation at hand. It’s a critical skill that students will need again and again throughout their lives, and the school library is usually the first place they encounter this skill.
Because of the importance of the role the school library plays in students’ long-term success, it’s critical when designing the layout of a school library to carefully consider all the elements that need to be included. A school library isn’t designed just for reading; it’s also designed for researching, studying, and meeting in groups. The following aspects should be taken into consideration when designing a school library, while keeping in mind the need for future technological growth:
The types of spaces needed, e.g., collection space, study rooms, electronic work stations, user seating space, meeting space, staff work space, etc.
Ample electrical outlets and circuits
Multiple phone lines
Appropriate cable connections for video and data transmission
Acoustical treatment of walls, ceilings, and floors
Moveable walls and bookshelves
Of course, this is just a partial list but it gives an idea of the amount of planning that needs to go into the design layout of a school library. The Hertz Design Center is a great resource to help with project planning and it’s available at no additional cost. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff will take you through the design process step by step to ensure that nothing critical gets left out.
School libraries provide a wealth of information for students throughout their educational years. It’s critical to ensure that students know how to access this information and apply it to their daily lives. The design layout of the school library can help facilitate this process by making it easier for students to find and access the information they need. The earlier they learn these skills, the sooner they’ll experience the sweet taste of success.