What do you picture when you hear the word library? Aside from a room of books, what do you see? Do you see an elderly woman with white hair, sitting behind a desk with her glasses halfway down her nose, shushing every few minutes? What do you hear? Do you hear pages turning and throats clearing, but minimal talking? This is typically what we visualize, but these days, libraries of this kind are hard to find. Shushing is a thing of the past.
A shift has occurred in the last several years. The library is no longer like a supermarket where you collect your ingredients and leave. It is now like a kitchen, a learning commons where those ingredients are utilized and where students and teachers are cooking up their passions beyond reading.
Recently in the Union Hill library, we had a pre-kindergarten class doing a lesson in the story pit, a talented and gifted class using the computers, a fourth-grade class checking out books, and two third grade classes doing Hour of Code activities, all at the same time. Was the library quiet? Not at all. When third, fourth and fifth graders created inventions using recycled materials, was the library quiet? Not at all. When first graders used Ozobots to showcase their knowledge of patterns of movement, was the library quiet? Not at all. With STEAM education at the forefront of our instruction, getting messy and noisy is a guarantee. As a teacher who works with all students and supports all teachers, it is my job to facilitate not only language arts activities but STEAM-driven lessons as well. Additionally, our library is filled with makerspace resources. With a Lego wall, pegboard, and many different types of building, problem-solving, and crafting resources, students are able to explore and learn without the guidance of a teacher. On average, the UHE library sees 1,300 students a week. If I spent my time shushing the students while completing their tasks, very little would be accomplished and our environment would be unwelcoming.
Regardless of what type of learning is happening or who is facilitating, the library is as busy and thriving as a classroom. Noise and excitement are inevitable. Visit the libraries of Round Rock ISD and you, too, can see what’s cooking!