Designing Modern School Libraries

A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life.

:Norman Cousins


School Library has an indispensable role in a school setting. It is where independent learning is facilitated and individual scholastic interests are explored. It is the place where classroom instructions are voluntarily complemented by the students.

Keeping in view the importance of the school library in configuring the educational ecosystem and speaking from a school architectural perspective, school library, through its placement and design defines the dexterity of the architect and designer in designing the 21st-century learning spaces.

In this day and age, modern libraries have evolved into a unique entity and have departed from the prototype thanks to the incorporation of digital technology in the catalog.

Interestingly, libraries which were places typically defined by attention-boosting seclusion and meditative learning have now turned into learning hubs where open and organized communication is welcome and collaboration is practiced. This obviously implies the compartmentalization of the space and increasingly complex design and the need for architectural discretion and imagination.

This article tries to reflect upon the scenario created by the modern age libraries and expansion in the avenues of learning they have brought about and how should the libraries in school be designed to tap the wave of advancement.


 The Digital School Libraries

The drastic shift in the role of a given learning space requires a corresponding shift in architectural design. The requirement of a rich and diverse collection of books is not something that digitalization dispenses within the school library, at least not in the foreseeable future. Digitization is to complement the learning that the library is supposed to facilitate through an exclusive environment with an inclusive resource base.  School authorities have willingly and rightfully welcomed the digital revolution in the management of libraries and thus took a significant lead by creating highly advanced learning spaces that resonate with the knowledge of virtually the entire world striking a chord with the curious mind and diverse interests of the children.

Technological involvement in the school libraries has added more scope in creative learning by giving almost free access to computers and handy mobile devices.

We have come a long way from the initial phases of computerization of libraries and cataloging that made the library management easier. Now the enhancement of the scope of knowledge is the chief role of digitization of the libraries.

As the graph of digitalization in the educational environment is on the rise, the trend of reading the e-books, online journals and magazines are also becoming prominent. This is helping the school students to enjoy the wide exposure to the global literature and getting benefitted throughout the educational journey.

It is not exclusively for the students that digitization of libraries has gained currency. The teachers who have to cater to the advance curricular needs and personalized learning values have ample to gain from it. The time that the digitization saves is invested in framing the lesson plans and enriching the classroom instruction by quoting from the happenings across the globe.

The library is the space for research and exposure. It is a place for exploration of individual interests and satisfaction of the longing for knowledge. Digitization of the libraries helps in the fulfillment of all these roles of the library.

One of the lesser appreciated roles of digitization of school libraries is that it is a way to achieve educational equity as it helps the schools built on small scales or in remote parts to make available to their students the level of exposure which is otherwise a challenge.


The Future School Libraries

The critical role of school libraries is obvious from the discussion. Future of the school libraries is intricately linked to the future of the schools and by extension, the future of the community.

While planning a school the plan of the library needs to be given critical importance not just because the boards of education mandate it but in order to maximize the learning outcomes.

It is clear that educational technology is going to play an increasingly prominent role in school education. Libraries, in particular, have to be even more technologically advanced than the classrooms. They can be integrated with the e-learning or IT rooms and can also house participatory clubs for creative activities. The scope is virtually unlimited for a well-designed and well-resourced library.

The school library set-up can be cost-effective, even economical, besides being complete in every respect only if it is planned with precision and design assumes centrality in this respect. It is the design that can make the accommodation of distinct realms of learning—conventional and modern, individual and collaborative—plausible.

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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